Every object used in decorating and furnishing the White House, the People's House, plays a part in representing the United States to the world. From the tableware to the draperies and chandeliers to the historic suites of furniture, this issue of the White House History Quarterly features the broad subject of how the President's House is furnished, exploring the turning points and new discoveries in the growth and evolution of the decorative arts collections at the White House.
Highlights of this issue include:
- Melissa Naulin, associate White House curator, presents the newly restored Bellangé suite, ordered by President James Monroe in 1818 and now re-gilded and reupholstered to its original splendor. The Bellangé firescreen, re-acquired for the White House collection in 2012 is seen fully restored for the first time in this issue.
- Using computer technology, designer David Ramsey has created a set of images showing the Bellangé suite in "summer dress" carefully protected from potential damaging effects of sun, dirt and insects, as it would have been in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries between social seasons. His new illustrations bring to light a process not illustrated in its time.
- Kristen Hunter tells the story of a unique early twentieth-century quilt and its maker, Alice P. Kennedy, a woman who served as a White House upholsterer at a time when upholstery was considered a man's job. Kennedy's artistic use of nineteenth-century fabric scraps is today the only existing document of upholstery materials and colors used in the late nineteenth-century State Rooms.
- Lauren McGwin presents the story of an “archival treasure trove”—the White House collection of drawings made by A. H. Davenport and Company for furnishing the rooms renovated during Theodore Roosevelt’s administration.
- Robert Kelly traces the history of the elegant antique scenic wallpapers hung in the Diplomatic Reception Room and Private Dining Room during the Kennedy administration.
- Stewart Stevens shares the story of his unusual career cleaning the large glass chandeliers and windows of the White House for seven presidents.
- Former White House Curator Betty Monkman shares the stories of those who have held the title of White House Curator, a small group of only eight people over the course of nearly 60 years.
- For the Quarterly presidential site feature, Lauren McGwin finds a connection between the White House decorative arts collection and The Hermitage, Andrew Jackson’s home, as she tells the story of a special collection of porcelain and silver that traveled from Decatur House to the White House and then to The Hermitage.
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