On February 23, 1961, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy launched the most celebrated redecoration of the White House in its history, undertaking an ambitious plan to acquire the finest period furniture, with which the historical integrity of the Executive Mansion’s interiors would be restored. Recalling a disappointing childhood tour with little history to impress her, she was determined to make her new home “the most perfect house in the United States.” Within a year, a committee was formed, a law passed, donations sought, a nonprofit chartered, and a museum-quality collection of historic furnishings established. Mrs. Kennedy’s time in the White House, however, was abruptly cut short on November 22, 1963, with the assassination of her husband President John F. Kennedy. Jacqueline Kennedy returned to the White House only once after departing through the East Garden on December 6, 1963. During a private visit in 1971, she would view her official portrait by Aaron Shikler, which is featured on this ornament. While the portrait preserves her likeness for posterity, her transformational vision for the White House, so masterfully executed in barely one thousand days, is preserved in the fabric of the historic interiors and through the work that has been carried on by the White House Historical Association, the private nonprofit partner she founded. Incorporated on November 3, 1961, to enhance the public’s “understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of the historic White House,” the Association continues to share and preserve the history of the White House with ever evolving and expanding initiatives. As the steward of the living legacy of the Kennedy restoration, the Association not only looks ahead but embraces the past.
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