Arkansas interior designer Kaki Hockersmith worked alongside the White House Historical Association chaired by First Lady Hillary Clinton to select period wall covering and elaborate draperies that would enhance one of the most used famous Rooms of State in the White House. Hillary Clinton chose the rich sapphire colors for the drapes and upholstery. Jacqueline Kennedy worked hard to ensure the White House furniture collection included many original pieces of the Bellangé French Empire suite of furniture that are part of the salon's rich nineteenth century history. At the White House enough bergère (enclosed sides) and several fauteuil (open sided) chairs needed to fill about 120 square feet of space in an oval room. Former secretary of state and Francophile on to President, James Monroe purchased a set of eight pieces and imported the classical furniture original to the room in 1817. (Photo of 1996 reproductions from WHA)
(1995 Clinton refurbishment of Blue Room)
Under Hillary's leadership bold colors replaced the Pat Nixon renovations in the Blue Room. By law, renovations of these rooms must get the requisite approval of the National Park Service, the White House Historical Association and the Committee for the Preservation of the White House. Jackie Kennedy deserves unending gratitude for rescuing White House treasures with much of her curation seen in Michelle Obama's favorite room.
(January 21, 2009/Reuters)
Michelle Obama named the Blue Room her favorite at a recent White House Take Your Kids to Work Day event when asked by one of the youngsters. Her official portrait was taken in the official reception room as was Hillary Clinton's. Both had their hands touching the white marbled circular table in the center of the room that was also a purchase of James Monroe. When walking in from the North Portico straight ahead is the presidential seal above the door moldings. President Obama is also photographed often in this room. The day after 44's inauguration, the Obamas welcomed people to the White House inside this room. The room after all was the original reception parlor that people entered from the south side of the White House. On the curved wall just to the left before the entrance to the Green Room is the painting from the White House Art Collection of the delicate first lady with the ermine shawl, Elizabeth Monroe. (Do you see it in the above photos?)
French Empire Style appeals to the new first lady of 21st century. The furniture was popular at European courts but held a special place with Empress Josephine Bonaparte. There are portraits of three presidents in the room, Thomas Jefferson, John Tyler and James Monroe with other priceless antiques including a gilt clock. The room is used most as a receiving room or for small intimate dinners. The room is impressive in all manner of lighting situations. Of course, it used to be the front door of the White House. Above, Michelle & the president gather for their first state dining event with the governors and their spouses in February of 2009. Music in the East Room came courtesy of Earth, Wind & Fire. (Photo courtesy of C. Shell/Time)
(Photo courtesy White House circa 2002 from Paul Morse via Huffington Post)
Cast your vote for your favorite First Floor Room of State in the poll! Tell us which room we should profile next here at EWR.
As a small person, the East Wing and its role in White House living, past and present, were cause for great fascination. Flaming Punch is my claim to family social fame at special events. Seeing State events on such a grand scale made me find out how was the magic perfectly performed. It means I read a ton of stuff most people zoom past. This is my chance to share with the one or two people who might stop by EWR.
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One of my favorite geeks of History and White House lore is Maureen. I am pleased to have her as an EWR contributor who will no doubt be thought provoking, even though she has had no formal introductions to cake pans or rolling pins.
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