New room!

Peter Sharkey provided the photos and details for the addition of a new room in the White House Museum: the East Wing’s East Reception Room, a space used to gather and greet those who have business in the First Lady’s domain.

I’ve added a hotspot to the map of the first floor of the East Wing, but it’s unlabeled for now. It’s the large green space on the map.

Truman gest busy

My hat is off to Matthew, who directed me to a terrific find…

The December 13, 1948 issue of Life magazine, wherein President Truman’s East Wing and West Wing first floors are diagrammed with offices designated. What a find! The fun starts on page 35….

Thanks, Matthew!

I’ve added images of the wing diagrams and ordered a copy of the magazine from eBay. When that comes, I’ll scan it and re-do the diagrams so the labels are more readable.

What do these images tell us that we didn’t already know? Well, they show that we (Pete Sharkey and I) have the East Wing elevator on the wrong side of the corridor, and that the main hall there is a little too wide, which distorts our depiction of the offices on the east side. It’s hard to say what the modern orientation of rooms is, since walls may have been moved in the past 64 years, so I’ll leave those as they are. The West Wing diagram shows that the swimming pool dressing rooms were still very likely intact and generally clarifies the north side. And of course both diagrams show who occupied which offices, which is of historical interest.

Inside the First Lady’s Office

Politico has an article about the Michelle Obama East Wing office that includes a couple of good pictures that I’ve added to my page on her office.

Obama, who redecorated the space last summer, has gone for something more casual than the gold tones of the Oval Office: an off-white, overstuffed, living-room-type couch — with floral and other printed pillows — along with two brown-and-cream-patterned chairs. The space is painted a warm, cozy peach color, and the windows feature plantation-style shutters rather than curtains or blinds.

Press secretary area revealed

Joe Scarborough toured the West Wing press staff area today accompanied by an out-of-control nine-year-old girl and conducted by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. It’s a great look at a seldom-seen part of the White House.

Meanwhile, their friend Willie Geist poked around the old swimming pool and also the Press Briefing Room.

While I’m at it, here is a tour Bill Plante did a few months ago (that includes the Kitchen, Pastry Kitchen, Family Theater, and Bowling Alley) that you may have missed (introduced by Chris Presumestoomuch).

Thanks to everyone who sent links.

Obama and Jefferson West Wings

I added diagrams of Jefferson’s west pavilion and east pavilion from Latrobe copies in The White House: An Architectural History (Ryan/Guinness).

Also the NY Daily News has more of Pete Souza’s pics of Obama on Inauguration Day and ID+1. No photos are showing up on, which is a real disappointment. They are apparently being funnelled directly to a handful of news services, some of which aren’t distributing them because they don’t want to eat the White House’s dog food.

Semi-secret museum semi-secrets

The addition of pictures to the Sub-Basement page brought up the subject of “semi-secret” WHM pages. These are pages—or even just individual pictures—that you might not be aware of even if your are a fairly thoro visitor to this site. They aren’t semi-secret because of any inherent security concern, but merely because they are labeled or are otherwise unexpected.

The horseshoe pitch is right next to the pool (very clear on Pete’s 3D rendering). There is a link to it on the main Grounds page, but that part of the map is not colored, so you might not have found it. Same goes for the Andrew Jackson milk trough on the south lawn.

First Lady’s Office hall. Just a dude in the hallway outside the First Lady’s Offices, available from the EW second floor page. The East Wing Entrance, altho labeled on the EW first floor page, is easy to miss.

A back staircase photo is available from each of the Residence floor pages by clicking on the staircase next to the Family Elevator.

The Pastry Kitchen is on the first floor mezzanine level and available by a link on the oblique diagram.

The arched hall on the third floor is available from an unlabeled link on the third floor page. The mysterious Bathroom 315, near the Family Elevator, is likewise available, marked only with a “B”. And the third floor storage rooms under the roof have a page of their own as well, with an unlabeled link.

The West Wing Navy Mess reception desk is represented by an unlabeled photo link in the middle of the hall on the WW ground floor. Not far away is an unlabeled link to the Situation Room entrance, altho this is probably different since the area was remodeled.

The West Wing stair corridor and east entry corridor are available from unlabeled links on the WW first floor page. A little lavatory off the Oval Office Corridor is on its page.

Then there’s the Front Page Gallery page, available only from the Site Map page. The Truman Reconstruction page includes a thumbnail of the 1945 WW expansion plan and tiny links to large images of the ground, first, second floor plans, side view and cross section, and a smaller second try at coaxing Congress into paying for it.

New additions

I added a terrific layout of the second floor of the East Wing created by Pete Sharkey (thanks, Pete!) from materials dating from LBJ, I believe, but probably not changed much since.

I’ve also begun adding photos that Pete found. The first are a couple from the West Wing. Next will be some from the second floor of the Residence. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Fixed the What’s New page. It had become corrupted somehow.

Fishin’ in the LOC

I went looking thru the Library of Congress collection again and came up with several more photos of a little bit of everything to add to the site. A few are rather unfortunately poor quality (which is why I didn’t get them when I first scoured the digital collection last year), but just having them is nice. Maybe the LOC will eventually add high-resolution versions, and it will be easy to go back and get those to replace the crummy ones. Particularly of interest are the floor plans from 1853, which—I realized once I collected them all—document the entire White House at the time. However, the images are too low resolution to read the room labels, unfortunately.

UPDATE: I found the same ground and second floor plans in Seale’s WH: Idea, where they are clear enough to read the labels, so I’ve added them.

2000 Symposium pics

Nick Valenziano (Nix) kindly sent some photos from his visit to the White House Symposium in 2000, which include a couple of rare shots of restrooms as well as a nice one of the China display cases and a really, really nice one of the Family Theater. Thanks, Nick!

Simultaneously, I have begun (on the Ground Floor) adding little maps to each room page—snippets of the floor plan—to help orient the reader about where the doors and windows and fireplaces are in that room.