The White House Easter Egg Roll is a much beloved tradition in Washington, D.C. Each year hundreds of happy families come to the White House South Lawn in order to participate in the Egg Roll Race. The President and his family along with White House staff work hard to make Easter Monday memorable and a wonderful occasion as they amiably open the South Lawn to the public.
When President and Mrs. Richard M. Nixon took residence at the White House in 1969, the wear and tear of thousands of earlier visitors and guests necessitated improvements. From the beginning Mrs. Nixon was keenly aware of the need to support a program for the acquisition of artwork and objects for the collection and played a major role in fulfilling this need.
Acquisitions to the White House Collection during the Nixon administration were substantial bringing more than 600 pieces of art, furniture, chandeliers, notable examples of china services from past administrations, and carpets among other things to the White House. Mrs. Nixon considered the iconic portrait of Dolley Madison painted by Gilbert Stuart in 1804 to be the most important acquisition (loaned from the Pennsylvania Academy of Art in 1970 and acquired by the White House through the gift of Walter H. and Phyllis J. Shorenstein Foundation, 1994).
In 1970, First Lady Patricia Nixon and the Committee for the Preservation of the White House began a program to furnish the Red, Green, and Blue Rooms in high quality American decorative arts from the early 19th century. Major examples by cabinetmakers Duncan Phyfe and Charles-Honore Lannuier were acquired for the Green and Red Rooms.
Lonnie G. Bunch, III, Founding Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, provided introductory remarks on the important role museums and historical sites play in promoting the visibility of African American history. The keynote address was given by Spencer Crew, Robinson Professor of American, African American and Public History, George Mason University, who set the historical and cultural context for the day’s lectures.
For the rest of the day, presentations by five scholars gave glimpses of new research on the lives of the free and enslaved community in and around Lafayette Square. The program ended with a discussion and audience Q&A with four descendants of the storied DePriest, Jennings, Syphax, and Wormley families.
Registration for the event reached capacity several weeks in advance of the symposium, so if you weren’t able to attend, you will soon be able to watch the program broadcast on CSPAN. Check back for details.
The Center is located at Decatur House, a National Trust historic site operated by the White House Historical Association. Current conservation measures are being undertaken, so we are grateful that we could cooperate with St. John’s Church to bring this event to the public.