Crashing the White House

Huge tent on the south lawn (Getty)

A couple apparently crashed the White House state dinner the other night, held in a fantastic tent on the south lawn that I think the Bushes used a couple of times. I don’t typically blog about news events, even as they pertain to the White House, but I just wanted to note a couple of things about the coverage.

  • It’s a slow news day, so anything of national interest is going to make headlines.
  • Even proper party guests don’t get into the White House without being screened for weapons.
  • People who represent a serious security risk would not have gotten in.
  • That was a beautiful dress.

I regard this as less a breach of security than a breach of state protocol, but the couple will obviously face some serious questioning, and shrugging it off as a harmless prank isn’t going to cut it. I see a public apology and community service in their future.

19th Century

I’ve added more than a dozen new photos, many of them from the late 19th century, filling out the exteriors a little. One thing they demonstrate is how often the layout of the north lawn plantings changed—every three or four years they were completely different.

Also included are a few more early 20th-century West Wing pics, including a new one of the Telegraph Room in 1923. In it, the man standing appears to be the same man seated in the middle in the earlier photo. I like to think he got promoted and upgraded those awful shoes. I’ve also made the floor plans of the old West Wing into clickable maps, which allows you to get to the rooms quickly and also allows people to link directly to specific areas.

Oh, and Pierce Brosnan got a VIP tour today.

Tennis/B-ball court

I think this is our first look at the tennis court with basketball hoops added so the president can play full court. The old basketball court is only half court. Lincoln’s basketball court was only a quarter court. And Hoban’s original basketball court was only an eighth court–totally unsuitable for modern basketball.*

* Would I steer you wrong?

Time‘s 100 Days series. Great photos inside the mansion and West Wing. Thanks, Colton and also Barry and Antonio!

UPDATE: Added some of these and also another pic of the court from the UConn girl’s team visit.


Completely disregarding the money-saving possibilities—let alone marketing possibilities—of White House honey, the Obamas had a swarm of bees removed from the grounds the other day.

The president’s victory garden

The New York Times reports that the Obamas are digging up a patch of the far south lawn (within view by the public) to plan a victory garden of sorts. The White House kitchen staff has long harvested plants for spicing and flavoring the first family’s meals, but this will be a full-fledged vegetable garden since Eleanor Roosevelt’s during WW2.

Bonus: In that same article, we also finally got a great new photo of the Kitchen Pantry. Woo hoo!

Thanks to Nick for the link!

White House vegetable garden

Expert needed

A Georgetown University film class group is looking for a DC-area WH expert to do an on-camera interview about the recreational features of the WH grounds (tennis court, b-ball court, pool, etc.). E-mail me if you are interested in being put into contact with them.

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….

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.