The White House Museum’s website
offers a fascinating historical chronicle of the interior of the White House. Though the East
wings are interesting in their own right, it is the evolution of the President’s Residence
that offers the most intimate view of the tastes and lifestyles of the various first families.
The White House has undergone many renovations over the years, the most recent significant one being under the watchful eye of the Clintons, who raised money for the face lift through private funds and donations. Aside from the decorative changes, the Clintons added a workout room
(the sequence of photos of this room is complete with a George W. Bush workout session) and a sound proof music room
where Bill could practice his sax in peace.
Although the website hosts the pictorial histories of over 140 rooms in what was once aptly referred to as “The Presidential Castle” by Dolley Madison, here are a few highlights:
• Once a humble cloakroom, the China Room
was established by Mrs. Woodrow Wilson in 1917. It boasts a chronological succession of china that represents every former President of the United States. The gallery contains photos dating back to 1918.
• The Diplomatic Reception
room has greeted many important ambassadors visiting the White House. It is still decorated in the panoramic wallpaper showing various American landscapes that was selected by none other than Jackie Kennedy. Don’t miss the photo of the Roosevelts near the bottom of the page.
• The Library
has been decorated in an incredible variety of styles over the years, but the most interesting part of the gallery are the photographs of various Presidents there. Of timely note, FDR preparing for a Fireside Chat about halfway down the page.
• The State Dining Room
is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting galleries on the site. The earliest photos picture the cabinet of James Polk in 1843, and the pictorial shows the many fabulous and opulent dining rooms that guests of the White House have had the pleasure to dine in.
• The Blue Room
has been reinvented dozens of times over the years, and from the amount of photographs featuring Presidents and their families, it seems to have been very oft used. The computer reconstruction (in color) of the black and white photos snapped in the 1880’s (towards the bottom of the page) are absolutely incredible. The Yellow Oval Room
is similar, and also hosts many interesting photographs, including the Reagans with Princess Diana & Charles in the 1980’s.
• No tour would be completed without the famous Lincoln Bedroom
, complete with photographs of Lincoln himself in the room. And of course, the voyeur in all of us wants to see where the President actually slept – The Master Bedroom
of the White House.
After seeing the many faces of the White House over the years, one has to wonder what kind of stamp the eagerly-awaited new occupants
will put on the residence. According to Architectural Digest (who posted a terrific photo slideshow of the changes Nancy Reagan and Jackie Kennedy made to the White House here
) every first family makes their own décor changes to the President’s Residence.
*Please be aware that the links are very slow loading. The pages are packed with photos that take a bit of time to download, but they’re worth it!
**The White House Museum was recently linked to in this
MeFi post by Jessamyn discussing the bowling alley.