Treasure troves

Google has recently released their Museum View of the White House as part of their Google Art Project. It’s pretty cool and, altho it’s not exactly an all-access pass, the nature of wheeling a set of cameras thru the building shows some interesting views that we don’t normally ever see.

They’ve also documented a fair number of art works in the White House, ranging from paintings to furniture to swords. They even categorize them by location, which is interesting, altho it seems hard to maintain, since art and furniture get moved around quite a bit.

Also the Gerald Ford Library has posted a big collection of images in, as one would guess about such matters, the least convenient format available to humans. They are PDFs that contain lists of links with no thumbnails to high-resolution* scans of crude contact prints of rolls of slide film, organized by day, complete with grease pencil circles obscuring the best shots.

* High enough resolution that they take forever to load but not enough to be useful to me, since each frame ends up being only about 280 pixels across. *sigh*


Thanks to Mike B and Jason B!

TR’s Blue Room chandelier

I got a request for information about a certain chandelier. The WH is not good about explaining where furnishings have gone, but if anyone happens to know, I’d be grateful.

I’m trying to find more information (any information, really) about the original French Renaissance chandelier than hung in the White House’s Blue Room circa 1902. It was removed during the Truman renovation, and I’ve no idea what became of it. More to the point, however, I’d simply like to know more about it (the maker, the dimensions, and so on.) It was a beautiful monstrosity, way out of proportion to the space–which, I think, became the reason given for its replacement.

There are only a few places in the mansion it could be, and it doesn’t seem to be in any of them. Big chandeliers being rather out of style, it’s likely been retired. It seems unlikely that has been moved to another government building. So, in all likelihood, it’s in any one of a dozen government warehouses, collecting dust.

[The/Fifth] Avenue in the Rain

Have you seen me?

Have you seen me?

I got a question about the location of Hassam’s The [or Fifth] Avenue in the Rain painting during the second Bush administration. I recall looking for it at one time and not finding it, but does anyone recall seeing it hanging anywhere in one of the White House videos, perhaps?

It hangs now in the Oval Office, next to the desk, as shown in the new photo I’ve posted.

Resolute desk

I’ve added several photos of the Resolute desk with high resolution versions after getting a request for detailed images.

Rod notes that JFK was apparently the only president to use the desk “wrong way around” with the plaque facing outward. It is, of course, a partner desk, so it is designed (without the kneehole modesty panel) to be used by two people at the same time, so it has drawers on both sides, concealed by doors. JFK must have had the modesty panel refitted so he could turn the desk around and the plaque could be read by visitors. The modesty panel was requested by FDR and added by Truman (after FDR’s death).

Old-timey mansion

I’ve added another big trove of photos from the Library of Congress, this time focused on the Executive Mansion in the Taft and Wilson eras. And we’re not talking the state floor; we’re talking bedrooms and nooks and crannies, including the old Butler’s Pantry and the old old Flower Shop.

The Harris & Ewing photos are exceptionally high quality and have been digitized at extremely high resolution—just a spectacular treasure. You can just about read William Howard Taft’s accounts papers. And among his desk-side books was Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, a favorite of mine since I was a teenager.