I’ve changed the front page to one of the Treaty Room in Taft’s time. Oddly, this is the first time the Treaty Room has served as the front page in all of the 3-and-a-half years since I started the site.
Also added a marvelous Halloween photo of the north lawn.
Great choice for a front page. You always have an eye for this stuff Derek.
Agreed. It’s fun to see these photos that so clearly show the White House rooms in their former, everyday use. Thanks, Derek!
I’m sure that this is obvious stuff to most of you, but one thing to keep in mind about the WH’s rooms is that they aren’t the same ones where the saints of the 1700s and 1800s, or even the first half of the 1900s, trod. You need look at only one photograph to know that is a fact: http://www.whitehousemuseum.org/images/white-house-1950-shell.jpg
The floors, windows, moldings, trim, fixtures (thankfully), most doors, and just about all other tangible things are different. While some fireplace mantles were preserved, the mantle in the Treaty Room when the Treaty was signed in 1898 isn’t even the same one there today, if this 1893 photo depicts it: http://whitehousemuseum.org/floor2/treaty-room/treaty-room-c1893.jpg
Not much IN the mansion is older than 60 years.
Rod makes an importance distinction about old mansion vrs. current mansion.
Seale in his picture book on the White House refers to the new house as cold, more institutional, and rife with 1940s design interpretations (e.g., the rails on the stairwell from the ground floor to the East Room, reduced versions of McKim’s plaster designs in the East Room, the increased use of marble in the foyer and cross hall). And even before the renovation, McKim had re-interpreted and changed what was there at the beginning of the 20th Century to reflect an imaginary understanding of what a wealthier United States might have built as a country mansion for its chief executive in 1800. His East Room do over and the enlarged State Dining Room were the biggest recreations in that effort, as well as the changes to the ground floor from domestic behind the scene utilitarian rooms to new state rooms and re-routing eastern entry into the White House.
Since Jackie Kennedy, there was been a museum approach to the furnishings and decorations, picking up where McKim left off, and it is till odd to realize that earlier White House decoration and use was more quirky and varied.
At the same time, it that most forgotten of architectural features, the space, that remains the same. Truman’s decision to preserve space in the same or similar shapes is quite similar to the decision Monroe made after the burning in 1815.
If we took folk who lived in various historic periods or eras of the house, they would still recognize much of the floor plans, the layout and flow of the house. For those prior to Theodore Roosevelt, they would probably marvel at moving the official workspace to the west wing.