Magazines and thanks!

I just got tipped off about old issues of magazines with good articles on the White House, and I managed to find them on Ebay and buy them for $17 each (including shipping):

  • Life: January 4, 1937—The Roosevelt White House (with a diagram of the West Wing to die for)
  • Life: July 5, 1968—Special Issue: The Presidency, with diagrams and photos (the primary source for my East Wing floor plan)
  • Rolling Stone: July 29, 1976—President Ford’s son Jack in the White House

Thanks to Alec and Rod….

…And many thanks to Sharon, Kathryn, and especially Lynne for their donations and happy new year to all!

By the way, feel free to suggest any other old White House magazine issues. The Internet is amazing. I’m telling you, this thing is going to be big.

West Wing history

Visitor Alec sent me photos of a tiny government publication from 1995 called Architecture of the West Wing of the White House. He made modifications to the c1911 diagram to make it a more authentic 1909 diagram, and I used the photos he sent to create a 1935 diagram from the 1945 one. Other photos confirmed Pete’s current floor plan. See the First Floor of the West Wing History page.

Thanks Alec!

The White House in 3D – a mini-tour

I’ve finally managed to produce a high-quality version of the animation of Pete Sharkey’s 3D President’s Park with narration by me. If you go to YouTube, you should see a little “watch in high quality” link in the lower right for best quality.

The next step is naturally to go inside the White House, and with Pete hard at work on various rooms (have you seen Wingnut’s Workings lately?) the only trick will be making the transitions seamless. And then, if I can get Pete to create them: historical versions of the White House in 3D. Imagine flying over Lincoln’s or Jefferson’s White House….

The elusive Dana Perino

I happened to catch part of The Situation Room on CNN that showed a short video of Dana Perino in her office. That’s the first I’ve seen of that scenario and yes, she uses the same rounded L-shaped desk I’ve come to know and love.

Does Perino not do gaggles? Are photos not allowed in her office? She can’t be camera-shy…. Given her rather fabulous good looks*, you would think photogs would be crawling over each other to snap her picture in every venue.

It also occurs to me that, judging by this photo, she is all of about 5 foot 2, so she’d have to do press gaggles in her office standing on a chair.

* This site is apolitical, but not blind.

Presidential archives

Can I just complain for a moment at the appalling state of our nation’s presidential library online offerings? I happened to click one of the credit links to a photo from the Eisenhower Library and got a “page not found” error because they’ve changed the site structure once again and now the photo is nowhere to be found.

My personal website [warning: politics] is almost 5 years old and not a single incoming link made during that time would be broken today. This site is 2-and-a-half years old and only two or three of links made in that time would be broken.

Further, in order to search for photos, they all direct you to a generic ARC search page and give weak instructions on how to find material related to the president in question. The few photos that are available are awful little 256-color GIFs that have scratches and dust, and no color- or fade-correction. A great deal of the work I do to create this site is just making those kinds of images presentable.

These people are the keepers of our nation’s presidential heritage and history, set up and supported by the American people. Is it too much to ask that they post clean, high-resolution images on their own sites and keep them available and link-enabled? Here is a photo of the Carter Oval Office on the National Archives site*; compare it to what I finally managed to produce that wouldn’t embarrass me to post.

* This is actually a University of Maryland mirror of some National Archive resources. It actually offers high-res images and makes them linkable.


A number of people have contributed monetarily to recently. With the recent leap in visitorship and associated web hosting costs (which are still pretty low, tho, to be honest), it’s much appreciated.

  • Rebecca
  • Steven
  • Robert
  • Beth
  • Latir


You asked for it (or sat quietly with an expectant look on your face)—you got it: the inimitable Peter Sharkey has provided us with the Residence sub-basement and basement mezzanine plans from photos of the original plans (I am trying to get the source to send me scans or copies).

I have inserted them into the overall blue print and posted them on their own page. And I’ve created separate pages for the Dressing Room, Laundry, and AC Control Room. I’ll take some time this week looking back over the Truman-era photos for more images of basement rooms.

White House Week on C-SPAN

Today is the beginning of White House Week, C-SPAN’s answer to Shark Week.

They even have a floor plan. The “Chocolate Shop” is placed in the basement. I recall seeing a reference to this before; is it really different from the Pastry Kitchen on the first mez?

And there’s video of the Living Room! So much for my separate-bedrooms theory….

UPDATE: Hey! They used my version of the floor plans…!
UPDATE: Hey! They credit WHM at the end!

White House in 3D

I’ve been playing with Peter Sharkey’s 3D model of the White House again and trying to create a nice video from it, but I’ve been having poor luck. Google Sketch-Up is a little tricky to export from and Microsoft Movie Maker is even trickier to import into.

I’ve uploaded the raw Sketch-Up animation to YouTube, where it looks fairly terrible.

I’ve also uploaded the Movie Maker video to this site (it’s about 35 MB). It looks better than the Flash-converted YouTube version, but Movie Maker does weird things like freezing on the frame after the frame the source video froze on, which sometimes puts a tree branch in the way of the view. But it’s got titles and narration so it seems more polished.

I’ll continue experimenting and perhaps try a different video software. I welcome any suggestions.

C-Span’s White House Week

Don’t forget about C-Span’s “White House Week,” starting December 14, which will include a tour. From the trailer, it looks pretty good. Already, I see it will give us good wide-angle view of the Flower Shop and Pastry Kitchen in addition to all the usual state rooms and family quarters. Still no hint of the Living Room and Master Bedroom or even the East and West Bedrooms on the north side, nor anything on the third floor. It would be nice to see what the Bushes have done with the Clinton’s Music Room, at least. And it would be nice to the see the grounds in detail, especially the new pool house.