Welcome to the Blue Room Room Text and photo from by: whitehouse.gov
"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
Monroe. The Monroe-era furniture, consisting of seven original chairs and
four reproductions and a sofa, was upholstered by Nelson Beck of Washington,
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
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
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
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
The White House requires 570 gallons of paint to cover its
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)
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