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Blue Room

Welcome to the Blue Room Room
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Picture of Blue RoomThe "elliptic salon", with the Yellow Oval Room above and the Diplomatic Reception Room below it, formed the most elegant architectural feature of Hoban's plans for the White House. The Blue Room has always been used as a reception room except for a brief period during the administration of John Adams when it served as the south entrance hall. During the Madison Administration, architect Benjamin Latrobe designed a suite of classical-revival furniture for the room, but only some working drawings remain; the furnishings were destroyed in the fire of 1814.

When President Monroe redecorated the "large oval room" after the fire, he used the French Empire style, which is the present decor. Monroe ordered a suite of French mahogany furniture through the American firm Russell and La Farge, with offices in Le Havre, France. However, the firm shipped gilded furniture instead, asserting that "mahogany is not generally admitted into the furniture of a Saloon, even at private gentlemen's houses". Of the pieces Monroe ordered, eight remain, including a bergere, an armchair with enclosed sides. A bronze-dore clock also remains.

The color blue was first acquired during the administration of Martin Van Buren in 1837; he redecorated the oval salon and began the tradition of the "blue room".

You are looking at the marble-top center table, that has been in the White House since it was purchased by President Monroe in 1817, standing beneath the French gilded-wood chandelier. This early 19th-century chandelier is made from wood and cut glass, encircled with acanthus leaves. George P. A. Healy's 1859 portrait of John Tyler hangs on the west wall above the Bellange sofa. It is considered to be the finest in the series of Presidential portraits Healy painted for the White House under a commission from Congress.

A renovation and refurbishing of the Blue Room was initiated in the early 1990's by the Committee for The Preservation of the White House and completed in mid-1995. Hillary Rodham Clinton served as honorary chair of the committee and was actively involved in the project. The sapphire blue fabric used for the draperies and furniture covering is similar in color to fabric used in the room in 1800's. The silk upholstery fabric retains the gold eagle medallion on the chair backs which was adapted from the depiction of one of the Monroe-era chairs in a portrait of President James Monroe. The Monroe-era furniture, consisting of seven original chairs and four reproductions and a sofa, was upholstered by Nelson Beck of Washington, D.C.

The blue satin draperies have a blue and gold tape adapted from the wallpaper frieze, and are the same design as the previous draperies which were derived from an early 19th century French source. The drapery valances are blue and gold. As part of the refurbishing, the walls were hung with a light gold paper containing alternating classic motifs in a darker gold. This design was adapted from an early 19th century American paper in the collection of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities in Boston, Massachusetts. The borders were adapted from two early 19th century French papers in the collection of the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, in New York. The upper border is a blue drapery swag with gold classical motifs; the lower border along the chair rail has a blue and gold pattern with rosettes.

The Blue Room has been painted and gilded to reflect the style of finish found in an American room of the first quarter of the 19th century. The wainscoting, door surrounds and window reveals received extensive conservation to redefine their detailing. The woodwork was painted white with a rubbed paint finish giving the wood a "porcelain" appearance. The faux marble that was painted on the baseboards was removed during the renovation to reveal the white marble installed in the Truman era. The acanthus leaves in the cornice and the ceiling medallion were gilded, as were the three lines of molding in the cornice.

A major component of the recent renovation was the preservation and conservation of the historic furnishings in the room and of the early 19th century American "looking glass" which hangs over the mantel. This part of the project involved repairs and partial re-gilding of the items. Both the French gilded bronze clock and the mahogany center table were retained, and two 19th century pier tables and marble busts of Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci were added to the refurbished room.

Installation of a new oval carpet, based on early 19th century designs, completed the renovation project. The wool carpet chosen has a blue field with gold rosettes and an eight foot center medallion with classical motifs of scrolls, vines, flowers and lyres in cream, gold, red and blue. The design was adapted from an original design for a neoclassical English carpet of about 1815, the period of the furnishings acquired by President James Monroe for the Blue Room.

The White House
An American Treasure
Text from by: whitehouse.gove

Photographs from the 200th Anniversary Kickoff Celebration

For two hundred years, the White House has stood as a symbol of the Presidency, the United States government, and the American people. Its history, and the history of the nation’s capital, began when President George Washington signed an Act of Congress in December of 1790 declaring that the federal government would reside in a district "not exceeding ten miles square…on the river Potomac." President Washington, together with city planner Pierre L’Enfant, chose the site for the new residence, which is now 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. As preparations began for the new federal city, a competition was held to find a builder of the "President’s House." Nine proposals were submitted, and Irish-born architect James Hoban won a gold medal for his practical and handsome design.

Construction began when the first cornerstone was laid in October of 1792. Although President Washington oversaw the construction of the house, he never lived in it. It was not until 1800, when the White House was nearly completed, that its first residents, President John Adams and his wife, Abigail, moved in. Since that time, each President has made his own changes and additions. The White House is, after all, the President’s private home. It is also the only private residence of a head of state that is open to the public, free of charge.

The White House has a unique and fascinating history. It survived a fire at the hands of the British in 1814 (during the war of 1812) and another fire in the West Wing in 1929, while Herbert Hoover was President. Throughout much of Harry S. Truman’s presidency, the interior of the house, with the exception of the third floor, was completely gutted and renovated while the Truman's lived at Blair House, right across Pennsylvania Avenue. Nonetheless, the exterior stone walls are those first put in place when the White House was constructed two centuries ago.

Presidents can express their individual style in how they decorate some parts of the house and in how they receive the public during their stay. Thomas Jefferson held the first Inaugural open house in 1805. Many of those who attended the swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Capitol simply followed him home, where he greeted them in the Blue Room. President Jefferson also opened the house for public tours, and it has remained open, except during wartime, ever since. In addition, he welcomed visitors to annual receptions on New Year’s Day and on the Fourth of July. In 1829, a horde of 20,000 Inaugural callers forced President Andrew Jackson to flee to the safety of a hotel while, on the lawn, aides filled washtubs with orange juice and whiskey to lure the mob out of the mud-tracked White House.

After Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, Inaugural crowds became far too large for the White House to accommodate them comfortably. However, not until Grover Cleveland’s first presidency did this unsafe practice change. He held a presidential review of the troops from a flag-draped grandstand built in front of the White House. This procession evolved into the official Inaugural parade we know today. Receptions on New Year’s Day and the Fourth of July continued to be held until the early 1930s.

President Clinton’s open house on January 21, 1993 renewed a venerable White House Inaugural tradition. Two thousand citizens, selected by lottery, were greeted in the Diplomatic Reception Room by President and Mrs. Clinton and Vice President and Mrs. Gore.



The West Wing - This new TV Show averages over a 11 million viewers each week but what is the west wing?

The West Wing is where the President works and where executive offices are located.  This wing  was constructed by Teddy Roosevelt to meet the housing needs of his rather large family which required the entire second floor for their living quarters. In 1909, William Taft added an Oval Office to the West Wing.  FDR had the West Wing enlarged and relocated the Oval Office  within the wing in 1934. 

In 1948, it was determined that the White House  in imminent danger of collapsing. Harry Truman moved across the street to the Blair House and the interior was gutted and   historic rooms were rebuilt as exact representations of the originals.

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis launched a program to redesign the White House emphasizing American antiques and artwork.. She is primarily responsible for making the White House a living museum of American history.

Today over five million cyber tour the White House annually with over 1 million actual visitors.


Some White House Facts

  • There are 132 rooms, 32 bathrooms, and 6 levels to accommodate all the people who live in, work in, and visit the White House. There are also 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 7 staircases, and 3 elevators.

  • At various times in history, the White House has been known as the "President's Palace," the "President's House," and the "Executive Mansion." President Theodore Roosevelt officially gave the White House its current name in 1901.

  • The White House receives approximately 6,000 visitors a day.

  • Presidential Firsts… President John Tyler (1841-1845) was the first President to have his photograph taken… President Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) was not only the first President to ride in an automobile, but also the first President to travel outside the country when he visited Panama… President Franklin Roosevelt (1933-1945) was the first President to ride in an airplane.

  • With five full-time chefs, the White House kitchen is able to serve dinner to as many as 140 guests and hors d'oeuvres to more than 1,000.

  • The White House requires 570 gallons of paint to cover its outside surface.

  • For recreation, the White House has a variety of facilities available to its residents, including a tennis court, a jogging track, swimming pool, movie theater, billiard room, and a bowling lane

  • 1824 -- South Portico completed, 1829 -- North Portico completed, 1833 -- Running water installed, 1848 -- Natural Gas lighting installed, 1853 -- Central plumbing installed, 1855 -- First kitchen stove, 1873 -- Major renovations, 1879 -- Telephone Service installed, 1881 -- Elevator installed, 1891 -- Electric Lighting installed,  1901 -- Conversion of 2nd floor offices, 1902 -- Roosevelt's Construction of the West Wing, 1909 -- Taft's Oval Office construction,. 1913 -- Creation of the Rose Garden, 1933 -- Swimming pool installed, 1934 -- Oval Office moved, and 1948-52 "Truman" renovation (total reconstruction of the structure)

White House Links:

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The First Ladies

The Presidents of the United States

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