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  • Mrs. Carter and Chef Raffert View 1979 Gingerbread House
    Warren K. Leffler
    winter holidays
    staff
    gingerbread
    food & drink
    decorations
    State Floor
    State Dining Room
    Residence staff
    Christmas
    In this photograph taken by Warren K. Leffler, First Lady Rosalynn Carter and White House Assistant Executive Chef Hans Raffert view a gingerbread house in the State Dining Room of the White House on December 10, 1979. Chef Raffert created his first German A-frame gingerbread house for the Nixon White House holiday decorations in 1969, where they subsequently became an annual tradition. Even after the A-frame design was no longer used, Raffert's skills were often used to create the Official White House Gingerbread House until his retirement in 1992.
  • Chef Morrison with the 2021 White House Gingerbread House
    David Wiegold
    winter holidays
    decorations
    State Floor
    State Dining Room
    staff
    Residence staff
    This photograph of White House Executive Pastry Chef Susan "Susie" E. Morrison posing by the White House Gingerbread House in the State Dining Room Room was taken by David Wiegold on November 29, 2021 during a press preview of the White House holiday decorations. Constructed by the White House pastry team from baked gingerbread, pastillage, chocolate, and royal icing, the display featured eight community buildings representing the essential workplaces of frontline employees. For their first year in the White House, President Joseph R. Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden chose the theme, "Gifts from the Heart." The theme was meant to honor the things we cherish and bring us together despite the obstacles posed by a pandemic, time, and distance.
  • Decorating the Cross Hall for Christmas 1972
    Robert L. Knudsen
    winter holidays
    staff
    lighting
    decorations
    chandeliers
    State Floor
    Cross Hall
    Christmas
    In this photograph, taken by Robert L. Knudsen on December 8, 1972, workmen decorate the chandelier in the Cross Hall for the holiday season. In 1972, First Lady Pat Nixon's holiday decorations drew inspiration from two White House collection paintings by Severin Roesen: "Still Life with Fruit" and "Nature's Bounty." Many of the garlands used to decorate the White House that year, including the one seen here being applied to the Cross Hall chandelier, were entwined with rustic details such as fruit and pinecones.
  • Decorating the Cross Hall for Christmas 1972
    Robert L. Knudsen
    winter holidays
    staff
    decorations
    State Floor
    Cross Hall
    Christmas
    In this photograph, taken by Robert L. Knudsen on December 8, 1972, workmen decorate the marble columns in the Cross Hall for the holiday season. In 1972, First Lady Pat Nixon's holiday decorations drew inspiration from two White House collection paintings by Severin Roesen: "Still Life with Fruit" and "Nature's Bounty." To complement the seasonal decor, the columns in the Cross Hall were covered with red velour and accented with gold braids.
  • Staff Prepare for Millennium Reception
    William Vasta
    staff
    meals
    State Floor
    Residence staff
    New Year's
    East Room
    receptions
    This photograph of White House Residence staff preparing for a millennium reception in the East Room was taken by William Vasta on December 31, 1999. To mark the final day of the 20th century, President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton hosted a candlelit dinner in the East Room to recognize partner institutions who had supported the Clinton administration's goals of "honoring the past and supporting the future," by leading environmental and community programs over the previous two years. Attendees at the event included representatives from the office of Mayor Anthony Williams and the government of the District of Columbia, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Park Service, the National Parks Foundation, and members of Congress.
  • Bess Truman's White House Staff Christmas Gift List
    Bess Wallace Truman
    winter holidays
    staff
    lists
    documents
    Residence staff
    Christmas
    accounting
    This list was compiled for First Lady Bess Wallace Truman in 1946, to coordinate Christmas gifts presented to White House staff. It includes the names of White House butlers, kitchen staff, maids, housemen, and doormen. White House employees have long received tokens of appreciation from the president and first lady during the holidays. Gifts for staff members first became commonplace in the late 19th century, and over the proceeding decades included coins, turkeys, and personalized trinkets which varied by administration.
  • Decorating the Blue Room Christmas Tree, 1971
    Karl Schumacher
    winter holidays
    staff
    decorations
    State Floor
    Residence staff
    Blue Room Christmas Tree
    Blue Room
    Christmas
    In this photograph, taken by Karl Schumacher on December 10, 1971, White House staff members including social secretary Lucy Winchester (right) examine ornaments for the Blue Room Christmas Tree. The unadorned Christmas tree can be seen in the background. An unidentified woman in the center of the photograph holds a velvet and satin "State Flower" ornament. Following the success of First Lady Pat Nixon's "American Flower" Christmas tree in 1969, similar ornaments were remade for the Blue Room Christmas Tree in 1971, which was also decorated with gold foil angels.
  • Assistant Chief Florist Wendy Elsasser Tends the Cranberry Tree
    Tina Hager
    winter holidays
    staff
    decorations
    cranberry tree
    State Floor
    Residence staff
    Red Room
    Christmas
    In this photograph, taken by Tina Hager in 2001, assistant chief florist Wendy Elsasser carefully examines the cranberry tree in the Red Room. White House florists constructed the tree over the course of four days. Traditionally displayed in the Red Room, cranberry trees have been a feature of the Christmas decorations in the White House since 1975, during the Gerald R. Ford administration.
  • Chief Florist Nancy Clarke Arranges Caroler Dolls
    Tina Hager
    winter holidays
    staff
    decorations
    State Floor
    State Dining Room
    Residence staff
    Christmas
    In this photograph, taken by Tina Hager, White House Chief Floral Designer Nancy Clarke adds the final details to the dress of a caroler doll in the State Dining Room. The dolls were created by Clarke and the White House florists to complement First Lady Laura Welch Bush's "Home for the Holidays" theme in 2001. Clarke served as the White House Chief Floral Designer from 1985 until 2009. She also brought her sense of artistry to many White House holiday decorations, particularly with doll displays. Under her management, the dolls created by the White House florists were dressed as storybook characters and used to decorate the Blue Room Christmas tree in 1989. She also designed the patterns for First Lady Barbara Bush's needlework theme in 1991.
  • Chef Morrison Constructs the 2010 Gingerbread House
    Chuck Kennedy
    winter holidays
    staff
    gingerbread
    food & drink
    decorations
    Residence staff
    Ground Floor
    China Room
    Christmas
    In this photograph, taken by Chuck Kennedy on November 29, 2010, Assistant Pastry Chef Susan E. "Susie" Morrison assembles the official White House gingerbread house in the China Room. Modeled after the White House, the 350-pound creation was made from a foundation of gingerbread with a sculpted white chocolate façade. The elaborate decoration also featured a model of Bo, the Obama family's Portuguese Water Dog. Gingerbread houses have been a beloved annual tradition during the White House holiday celebrations since 1969, when White House Assistant Executive Chef Hans Raffert created a gingerbread house in the German A-Frame style for First Lady Pat Nixon's holiday decorations.
  • Chef Mesnier Prepares a Bûche de Noël
    Unknown
    staff
    Residence staff
    food & drink
    winter holidays
    Ground Floor
    Kitchen
    In this photograph, White House Executive Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier prepares a bûche de Noël or Yule log cake in the White House Kitchen. The traditional holiday cake was a favorite at White House Christmas parties. Here, Chef Mesnier applies a layer of coffee buttercream to give the dessert its distinctive tree bark appearance. Mesnier joined the White House Kitchen in 1979 and retired in 2004.
  • Pastry Chefs Work on the 2006 White House Gingerbread House
    Shealah Craighead
    winter holidays
    staff
    gingerbread
    decorations
    Residence staff
    Ground Floor
    China Room
    food & drink
    Christmas
    In this photograph, taken by Shealah Craighead, former White House Executive Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier, and the White House pastry team work on the 2006 official White House Gingerbread House in the China Room. Mesnier retired in 2004 but returned at the request of First Lady Laura Welch Bush to create the "Red and White" gingerbread house for the 2006 holiday season, where it was displayed in the State Dining Room. Mesnier and his team decorated the gingerbread White House with more than 850 snowflakes and red bows made from royal icing. Pictured here from left to right: Roland Mesnier, Mark Ramsdell, Marlene Roudebush, and an unknown pastry chef.
  • Installation of the 2006 White House Gingerbread House
    Shealah Craighead
    winter holidays
    gingerbread
    food & drink
    decorations
    State Floor
    State Dining Room
    Christmas
    staff
    Residence staff
    In this photograph, taken by Shealah Craighead, former White House Executive Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier assists members of the White House Operations Crew in placing the 2006 Official White House Gingerbread House on a pier table in the State Dining Room. Mesnier retired in 2004, but returned at the request of First Lady Laura Welch Bush to create the "Red and White" gingerbread house for the 2006 holiday season. Mesnier and his team decorated the gingerbread White House with more than 850 snowflakes and red bows made from royal icing.
  • Chefs Mesnier and Ramsdell Assemble the 2006 Gingerbread House
    Shealah Craighead
    food & drink
    gingerbread
    decorations
    China Room
    State Floor
    winter holidays
    staff
    Residence staff
    In this photograph, taken by Shealah Craighead, former White House Executive Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier (right) and assistant pastry chef Mark Ramsdell (left) work on assembling the 2006 Official White House Gingerbread House in the China Room. Ramsdell joined the White House pastry team in 1992, and worked alongside Mesnier as an assistant pastry chef in the White House Kitchen during the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. Mesnier retired in 2004, but returned at the request of First Lady Laura Welch Bush to create the "Red and White" gingerbread house for the 2006 holiday season. Mesnier and his team decorated the gingerbread White House with more than 850 snowflakes and red bows made from royal icing.
  • Barbara Bush with Chefs Mesnier and McCulloch
    Unknown
    State Dining Room
    State Floor
    Residence staff
    staff
    winter holidays
    decorations
    food & drink
    gingerbread
    In this photograph, taken on December 7, 1992, First Lady Barbara Bush poses with White House Executive Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier and assistant pastry chef Franette McCulloch in front of the White House Gingerbread House in the State Dining Room. This was the first year Mesnier oversaw the creation of the gingerbread house. Mesnier diverted from the style of his predecessor, Hans Raffert, whose traditional A-frame gingerbread houses had been a staple of White House holiday celebrations since 1969. Instead, Mesnier and his pastry team constructed a winter village scene for the gingerbread display, complete with sledding marzipan elves.
  • Pastry Chefs with 2002 Holiday Chocolate Buffet Display
    Unknown
    Christmas
    East Room
    Residence staff
    State Floor
    crèche
    food & drink
    staff
    winter holidays
    decorations
    This photograph shows staff members from the White House Pastry Shop posing in the East Room with a handmade chocolate eagle and a dessert buffet they prepared for the 2002 White House holiday season. The room is decorated for the season with multiple Christmas trees and an 18th century crèche, visible in the background. The 3-foot tall chocolate eagle was designed to complement First Lady Laura Welch Bush's "All Creatures Great and Small" holiday theme, but was so well received that sculpted chocolate eagles by the pastry shop became a tradition for the remainder of the George W. Bush administration. Pictured here from left to right: Jessie Betts, Noree Hathaway, Lindsay Michel, Susan "Susie" E. Morrison, Lynn McCartin, Marlene Roudebush, Roland Mesnier, Susan Limb, Patrick Musel, Donna Cellere, and Patty Stimmel.
  • Mrs. Carter Greets White House Kitchen Staff
    Unknown
    Ground Floor Corridor
    Ground Floor
    Residence staff
    staff
    In this photograph, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter greets White House Kitchen staff members in the Ground Floor Corridor during a visit to the White House in 1989. Here, she shakes hands with White House Executive Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier, who she hired to serve as pastry chef for the White House in 1979. Pictured at left of Messier is White House Executive Chef Hans Raffert. Raffert began his career in the White House Kitchen as assistant executive chef in 1969. In 1988, he became the first member of the White House Kitchen staff to be promoted to the position of White House Executive Chef.
  • Chefs Mesnier and Roudebush Prepare Holiday Delicacies
    Unknown
    winter holidays
    staff
    food & drink
    Residence staff
    Kitchen
    Ground Floor
    Christmas
    In this photograph, White House Executive Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier and Assistant Pastry Chef Marlene Roudebush create confectionary decorations in the Kitchen for the holiday season at the White House. As Mesnier blows sugar balls, Roudebush crafts marzipan figures. Mesnier led the White House pastry shop in creating hundreds of marzipan figures each year to populate the official White House Gingerbread House and lend a festive garnish to other holiday delicacies.
  • White House Retirement Celebration for Chef Mesnier
    Unknown
    East Room
    State Floor
    staff
    Residence staff
    In this photograph, First Lady Laura Welch Bush shakes hands with White House Executive Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier in the East Room upon his retirement on July 30, 2004. In recognition of his 25 years of service at the White House, Mesnier was presented his workbench as a retirement gift. A plaque denoting his tenure was specially made for the piece.
  • Preparation of the "American Village" Gingerbread House
    Unknown
    winter holidays
    staff
    gingerbread
    food & drink
    Residence staff
    Kitchen
    Ground Floor
    Christmas
    decorations
    In this photograph, White House Executive Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier and his assistant, Marlene Roudebush, work on the "American Village" gingerbread house. Created to complement First Lady Barbara Bush's holiday decorations in 1992, this was the first White House gingerbread house overseen by Mesnier. The whimsical scene, which incorporated multiple gingerbread houses and sledding marzipan elves, marked a departure from the traditional A-frame gingerbread houses created for the White House holiday season by Hans Raffert since 1969. Here, Chef Mesnier sprinkles powdered snow on the creation while Roudebush assembles a marzipan Santa Claus.
  • Holiday Decoration Press Preview, 1985
    Bill Fitz-Patrick
    winter holidays
    staff
    pets
    gingerbread
    food & drink
    decorations
    State Floor
    State Dining Room
    Residence staff
    Christmas
    This photograph was taken on December 9, 1985, during a press preview of the White House holiday decorations hosted by First Lady Nancy Reagan. Here, Mrs. Reagan holds her dog Rex and laughs during the presentation of the official White House Gingerbread House. The display was made by Assistant Executive Chef Hans Raffert and included figures based on the Hansel and Gretel fairytale and a pathway made of jelly beans, President Ronald Reagan's favorite treat. Raffert's A-frame style gingerbread houses were a traditional part of the White House holiday decorations from 1969-1991. Also pictured at the far left of this photograph is actor Larry Hagman, who accompanied Mrs. Reagan for the press preview dressed as Santa Claus.
  • Chef Raffert Decorates the 1981 Gingerbread House
    Mary Anne Fackelman
    winter holidays
    staff
    gingerbread
    food & drink
    decorations
    State Floor
    State Dining Room
    Residence staff
    Christmas
    In this photograph, taken by Mary Anne Fackelman on December 7, 1981, Assistant Executive Chef Hans Raffert adds the finishing touches to the official White House Gingerbread House in the State Dining Room. For President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan's first holiday season at the White House, Chef Raffert created a gingerbread house with details including a well made from gingerbread and a path made from jelly beans, the president's favorite treat. Raffert's A-frame style gingerbread houses were a traditional part of the White House holiday decorations from 1969-1991.
  • Preparation of the 2006 "Red and White" Gingerbread House
    Shealah Craighead
    winter holidays
    staff
    gingerbread
    food & drink
    decorations
    Residence staff
    Ground Floor
    China Room
    Christmas
    In this photograph, taken by Shealah Craighead in 2006, pastry chefs including Mark Ramsdell (far left), former White House Executive Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier (second from left) and Marlene Roudebush (far right) consult during the construction of the "Red and White" Gingerbread House in the China Room. The partially assembled gingerbread house is visible in the background, while a table holding a wall and plans is visible in the foreground. Mesnier's career at the White House began in 1979. He retired in 2004, but returned at the request of First Lady Laura Welch Bush to create the "Red and White" gingerbread house for the 2006 holiday season. Mesnier and his team decorated the gingerbread White House with more than 850 snowflakes and red bows made from royal icing.
  • Preparation of the 2006 "Red and White" Gingerbread House
    Shealah Craighead
    winter holidays
    staff
    gingerbread
    food & drink
    Residence staff
    Ground Floor
    Christmas
    China Room
    In this photograph, taken by Shealah Craighead in 2006, former White House Executive Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier pours coverture chocolate into a cone as part of the preparations for the assembly of the "Red and White" gingerbread house in the China Room. Mesnier and his team piped coverture chocolate against the walls of the house to support its structural foundation. Mesnier's career at the White House began in 1979. He retired in 2004, but returned at the request of First Lady Laura Welch Bush to create the "Red and White" gingerbread house for the 2006 holiday season. Mesnier and his team decorated the gingerbread White House with more than 850 snowflakes and red bows made from royal icing.
  • Preparation of "Red and White" Gingerbread House
    Shealah Craighead
    winter holidays
    staff
    gingerbread
    food & drink
    decorations
    Residence staff
    Ground Floor
    China Room
    Christmas
    This photograph was taken by Shealah Craighead in 2006, during the construction of the "Red and White" gingerbread house in the China Room. Here, former White House Executive Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier (far left) examines tempered couverture chocolate while other members of the pastry team including Mark Ramsdell and Marlene Roudebush work at a table in front of the fireplace at right. Mesnier oversaw construction and design of the "Red and White" gingerbread house. Mesnier's career at the White House began in 1979. He retired in 2004, but returned at the request of First Lady Laura Welch Bush to create the "Red and White" gingerbread house for the 2006 holiday season. Mesnier and his team decorated the gingerbread White House with more than 850 snowflakes and red bows made from royal icing.