There is a questionnaire going around the Facebook White House Fanatics group. I you’re reading this, you should consider going the group; it’s the place for all manner of non-political discussions about the White House.
Anyway, here are my answers:
1. You first became aware of the White House when:
Probably the Bicentennial celebrations in 1976, when I was 9. I was very interested in the presidential election. And I’ve stayed interested ever since.
2. You became extremely fascinated with the White House when:
I always loved the White House as both history and architecture, but I only studied it as much as I studied other pieces of great architecture (the skyscrapers of New York, castles of Europe, etc.). About 2004, I started thinking how great it would be to recreate great and/or ruined architecture at full scale, like a complete and painted Parthenon. But I was more attracted to the White House (and also 10 Downing Street) than I was the Parthenon and found a huge amount of detail available about it (less so about 10 Downing Street). And the more I found, the more I wanted to know.
3. Your favorite room at the White House is:
The hiddenest nooks and crannies.
4. If I could have an extremely accurate copy of any object in the White House it would be:
The Reagan Oval Office rug, altho Lord knows what I’d do with it.
5. If you were to save 3 objects from a fire, they would be:
1) The Gilbert Stuart portrait of Washington.
2) The Monroe Bellangé sofa.
3) Lincoln’s hand-written Gettysburg Address.
6. If you could visit the White House in any 2 periods in history, you would choose:
I’d love to see the fresh young Jefferson White House and the stuffy late-Victorian White House, say 1893, so I could follow Frances Benjamin Johnston around as her photo assistant.
7. The room you would most like to change is:
I would turn the Queens’ Bedroom suite in a Washington Bedroom suite.
8. How many times have you visited the White House?
Just once from the outside. I should have gone when getting a tour was easy!
9. Your favorite story about the White House:
LBJ demanding an absurd, high-pressure, multi-nozzle shower. That guy was America’s crazy uncle.
10. Your least favorite object in the White House:
Probably the new Green Room rug or else the gold dining chairs.
11. Do you favor the North Portico or the South Portico:
South Portico; it gets all the sun. I have a 16×20 photo I shot of it hanging in my study.
12. You’re an invited overnight guest, where do you hope to dine and sleep?
I’d like a dinner in the Blue Room and a sleeping bag in the Solarium. Who am I kidding? I wouldn’t sleep. I would creep around the basement all night with a sketchbook, tape measure, and camera.
13. If you could give a gift to the White House it would be:
A lost set of early Daguerreotypes, documenting all the interiors, hand-tinted by artists working inside the mansion for accuracy.
14. Your favorite state china service is:
Wilson, with Roosevelt a close second.
15. The best you remember the White House looking in photographs or in video:
I like it in night shots, especially with the West Wing burning the midnight oil.
16. First reactions to visiting the White House:
There’s a lot of junk hidden in the trees on the east side. I think I saw Susan Ford’s Mustang up on blocks.