Abbie Rowe's photographs of the Truman renovation of the White House form a unique and invaluable visual record of one of the nation's most important architectural and engineering challenges of the time. A Virginia native, Rowe spent his career in government service and was a noted photographer for the National Capital Parks of the National Park Service.
First hired by the Bureau of Public Roads in 1930, his career took a turn when he photographed First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt riding on horseback along the Mount Vernon Highway. She wrote of the incident in her newspaper column "My Day" in 1938. Subsequently, Rowe, partially disabled by polio, appealed to the first lady for a change of job status because of his difficulty in performing heavy manual labor. He became a photographer for the National Park Service documenting public buildings and roads in and around the nation's capital before being assigned in December 1941 to photograph presidential activities.