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Decorating the White House

  • Medicine Chest
    Unknown
    chest
    This walnut medicine chest with brass and ivory details was taken from the White House during the fire of August 24, 1814 and given to President Franklin D. Roosevelt by a descendant of Thomas Kains, a British naval purser who was part of the British forces in the Chesapeake campaign. Bates Littlehales photographed the chest in March 1962, when it was on loan from the National Archives and Records Administration during the John F. Kennedy administration.
  • Victorian Andirons, White House Collection
    Unknown
    andirons
    brass
    This pair of brass, urn shaped andirons are a blend of Chinese and rococo styles. The andirons and a family history of their use in the White House were donated to the White House Collection by relatives of President Taylor's daughter, Betty Taylor Bliss, around 1962. They were photographed by Bates Littlehales in 1962.
  • Rosewood Center Table with Carved Apron, White House Collection
    John Henry Belter
    table
    This rosewood center table is attributed to John Henry Belter of New York. First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln purchased it in 1861 for a guest room. The apron is decorated in carved vines, grape clusters, and roses, and the legs are exotic birds. Bates Littlehales photographed the table in March 1962 during the John F. Kennedy administration.
  • Conservation of a Bellange Chair
    Pierre-Antoine Bellange
    chair
    This photograph taken during the Clinton Administration shows conservation work being done on one of Pierre-Antoine Bellange's chairs made for the Blue Room. President James Monroe purchased 53 pieces of furniture for the White House from Bellange in Paris in 1817.
  • Ebony Sofa
    Unknown
    sofa
    This ebony sofa with carved, fan-shaped elements in the Japanese manner was part of a suite purchased for the East Room from a Washington firm in 1882.
  • Bracket Clock
    Thomas Pearsall
    clock
    This mahogany bracket clock attributed to Thomas Pearsall and Effingham Embree of New York has a brass spring-driven movement and an American eagle on the dial. The bracket clock is an English form and in most cases exported to America, though a limited number were made domestically. The clock was a gift of the White House Historical Association to the White House in 1974.
  • Lincoln Bed, Lincoln Bedroom
    Unknown
    bed
    This bed, famously called the "Lincoln Bed" because it was purchased by First Lady Mary Lincoln in 1861 for the principal guest room, is made of rosewood and has an ornately carved headboard featuring exotic birds and clusters of grapes. Though President Lincoln did not sleep in this bed, other presidents did, including Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. First Lady Grace Coolidge also used this piece.
  • Tea Box with White House Wallpaper
    Unknown
    tea
    wallpaper
    The French woodblock wallpaper that lines this tea box is believed to be one of the only surviving artifacts from the pre-1814 President's House. First Lady Dolley Madison reportedly gave the wallpaper as a gift to Mary Latrobe, her friend and wife of architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe. The inscription written on the wallpaper reads: "Paper upon the Drawing Room of the President's House in Mr. Madison's time. Given to my mother by Mrs. Madison." This was written by the Latrobes' daughter, Julia. The tea box was returned to the White House as a gift from the White House Historical Association in 1971. The wallpaper in the box is by Jacquemart et Benard.
  • Gilded Bronze Mantel Clock
    Denière et Matelin
    clock
    The case of this gilded bronze mantel clock was made by Denière et Matelin of Paris. The figure standing beside the clock housing is Hannibal, the Carthaginian military commander and a famed war strategist of the ancient world.
  • Circular Ottoman, White House Collection
    Gottlieb Vollmer
    ottoman
    This red and gold ottoman was part of a gilt Victorian Rococo Revival suite, made in 1860 by Gottlieb Vollmer of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The ottoman traditionally resided in the Blue Room. The Blue Room was refurbished during the James Buchanan administration in 1860. Bates Littlehales photographed this ottoman in March 1962, during the John F. Kennedy administration.
  • Steinway Piano, White House Collection
    Bruce White
    piano
    Entrance Hall
    State Floor
    This photograph of the Steinway piano in the Entrance Hall of the White House taken by Bruce White on April 6, 2017. The mahogany concert grand piano with supporting eagles of the gold leaf was presented to the White House by Steinway & Sons on December 10, 1938. The piano was designed by architect Eric Gugler who was also responsible for the 1934 expansion of the West Wing.
  • White Garden Bench, White House Collection
    Unknown
    bench
    This white, cast-iron bench is of the Rococo Revival style during the Victorian era and may have been purchased during the Millard Fillmore administration. Bates Littlehales photographed the bench on the White House Grounds in March 1962.
  • Mamie Doud Eisenhower
    Thomas Edgar Stevens
    official portrait
    This oil on canvas portrait of First Lady Mamie Eisenhower was painted by Thomas Edgar Stevens. As first lady, Mrs. Eisenhower was an active hostess and entertained more heads of state and leaders of foreign governments than her predecessors. Her husband served as president from January 20, 1953 until January 20, 1961.
  • Pat Nixon and Mamie Eisenhower in the Yellow Oval Room
    Joseph J. Scherschel
    Yellow Oval Room
    Second Floor
    This photograph by Joseph J. Scherschel shows First Lady Pat Nixon and former First Lady Mamie Eisenhower in the Yellow Oval Room on January 29, 1970. Mrs. Eisenhower visited the White House that day to receive the Distinguished Volunteer Service Award from the American Heart Association in the Diplomatic Reception Room.
  • Mrs. Kennedy Views Plans for Jackson Place, Lafayette Park
    Abbie Rowe
    Lafayette Park
    plans
    This photograph by Abbie Rowe of the National Park Service shows First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy viewing a model for the Lafayette Park area during a presentation at the General Services Administration (GSA) building. Architect John Carl Warnecke stands in the background.
  • Jacqueline Kennedy Inspects Lafayette Square Plans
    Robert L. Knudson
    Lafayette Park
    plans
    This photograph by Robert Knudsen shows First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and architect John Carl Warnecke examining plans to rebuild and restore Lafayette Square. It was taken at the General Services Administration building in Washington, D.C.
  • Chief Floral Designer Elmer M. Young in the Red Room
    George F. Mobley
    staff
    Red Room
    State Floor
    This photograph is of White House Chief Floral Designer Elmer M. "Rusty" Young with a flower arrangement in the Red Room. George F. Mobley took this photograph in February 1963 during the John F. Kennedy administration. The Red Room is located on the State Floor of the Executive Mansion. The room was first decorated with red fabrics during the James K. Polk administration in 1845. The richly decorated room is filled with furnishings in the American “Empire” or “Grecian” style. The parlor has been used for intimate receptions, teas, and meetings.
  • Blue Room Mantel, Kennedy Administration
    Bates Littlehales
    State Floor
    Blue Room
    clock
    mantel
    This photograph by Bates Littlehales captures the Blue Room mantel in March 1962, during the John F. Kennedy administration. The gilded bronze clock with the figure of Minerva was made by Thomire & Co. in Paris, France circa 1817. Flanking the clock are a pair of gilded bronze candlesticks with a lotus design, also made circa 1817. The candlesticks were purchased for the Blue Room. The Blue Room is located on the State Floor of the Executive Mansion. The oval parlor has been known as the Blue Room since Martin Van Buren’s 1837 redecoration. The room is often used for receptions, photo opportunities, and during the holiday season is home to the official White House Christmas Tree.
  • West Wall of the Family Dining Room, Obama Administration
    Matthew D'Agostino
    State Floor
    Family Dining Room
    This photograph of "Early Bloomer [Anagram (a Pun)]" by Robert Rauschenberg, silverware, and an early New England sideboard once owned by Daniel Webster was taken by Matthew D'Agostino on July 27, 2016. These items were photographed in the Family Dining Room which is located on the State Floor of the White House. During their residence in the Executive Mansion, the Obamas oversaw the 2015 refurbishing of the dining room, incorporating modern art and design into the room. The second piece of modern art is "Resurrection" by Alma Thomas. The wool rug was also adapted from a pictorial weaving called "Black, White, and Gray" by Anni Albers.
  • Pergola in the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden
    Matthew D'Agostino
    Jacqueline Kenndy Garden
    This photograph of the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden was taken by Matthew D'Agostino on July 1, 2015, during the Barack Obama administration. The Jacqueline Kennedy Garden is also referred to as the East Garden and is located on the South Grounds of the White House. This pergola was designed by I.M. Pei in 1965.
  • Press Briefing in the Rose Garden
    Joseph J. Scherschel
    Rose Garden
    press
    This photograph by Joseph J. Scherschel shows President Lyndon B. Johnson giving a press briefing in the Rose Garden, likely on July 29, 1965. The Rose Garden is located on the west side of the South Grounds, just outside the Oval Office. It has gone through several incarnations: a vegetable garden in the first part of the 19th century, a “colonial” garden in 1902, and replaced with a rose garden in 1913. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy wanted to expand the garden for official functions and events. His idea became the Rose Garden, designed by horticulturist, gardener, and close friend of the Kennedys, Rachel Lambert Mellon. The garden was installed the following year, becoming a green theater for official ceremonies and a special place for the first family’s private enjoyment.
  • North Wall of the Family Dining Room, Obama Adminstration
    Matthew D'Agostino
    State Floor
    Family Dining Room
    This photograph of the Family Dining Room was taken by Matthew D'Agostino on July 27, 2016. The Family Dining Room is located on the State Floor of the White House. During their residence in the Executive Mansion, the Obamas oversaw the 2015 refurbishing of the dining room, incorporating modern art and design into the room. The Obamas also opened the room to public tours for the first time. Among the selected pieces of work was "Resurrection" by Alma Thomas, seen on the north wall.
  • Family Dining Room, Barack Obama Administration
    Matthew D'Agostino
    State Floor
    Family Dining Room
    This photograph of the Family Dining Room was taken by Matthew D'Agostino in 2015, during the Barack Obama administration. The Family Dining Room is located on the State Floor of the White House. During their residence in the Executive Mansion, the Obamas oversaw the 2015 refurbishing of the dining room, incorporating modern art and design into the room. Among the selected pieces of work are the paintings "Early Bloomer [Anagram (a Pun)]" by Robert Rauschenberg on the west wall and "Resurrection" by Alma Thomas on the north wall. The wool rug was adapted from a pictorial weaving called "Black, White, and Gray" by Anni Albers.
  • State Dining Room Rug, Barack Obama Administration
    Matthew D'Agostino
    State Dining Room
    State Floor
    textile
    This close up of the State Dining Room rug was taken by Matthew D'Agostino on July 1, 2015, during the Barack Obama administration. First Lady Michelle Obama oversaw the refurbishment of the State Dining Room, a three year project that was unveiled in 2015. This custom, woven rug was inspired by the plasterwork on the room's ceiling and features a design with wreathes and oak leaves. The rug was installed in 2012, at the beginning of the refurbishment.
  • State Dining Room Rug, Barack Obama Administration
    Matthew D'Agostino
    State Dining Room
    State Floor
    textile
    This close up of the State Dining Room rug was taken by Matthew D'Agostino on July 1, 2015, during the Barack Obama administration. First Lady Michelle Obama oversaw the refurbishment of the State Dining Room, a three year project that was unveiled in 2015. This custom, woven rug was inspired by the plasterwork on the room's ceiling and features a design with wreathes and oak leaves. The rug was installed in 2012, at the beginning of the refurbishment.