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  • The White House Historical Association commissions the official White House Christmas ornament each year.
  • This is the 36th ornament in the series begun in 1981.
  • The ornament honors 31st U.S. President Herbert Hoover and is inspired by the fire engines that responded to the 1929 Christmas Eve fire at the White House and the toy trucks presented to children by the Hoovers the following Christmas.
  • President and Mrs. Herbert Hoover were entertaining staff and family at a White House Christmas party when the fire broke out in the West Wing.
  • The four-alarm fire brought nineteen engine companies and four truck companies to the White House. Although the West Wing exterior walls survived, the roof, attic, and floors were burned or warped beyond repair.
  • The West Wing was rebuilt using a special appropriation passed by Congress and Hoover and his aides were able to use the space again in April 1930.
  • For Christmas in 1930, the Hoovers presented toy fire trucks to children in remembrance of the fire.
  • The ornament design includes a tree for delivery to the White House.
  • The ornament is American-made by ChemArt manufacturing in Lincoln, Rhode Island, and has been every year since the program’s inception.
  • The ornament is for sale by the White House Historical Association for $20.95.
  • Ornaments will be available for purchase online (Shop.WhiteHouseHistory.Org) or in Association stores on February 11, 2016.
  • All proceeds from the sale of the ornaments supports the Association’s nonprofit, nonpartisan mission to fund the acquisition of furnishings and artwork for the White House permanent collection, assist in the preservation of the historic rooms, and educate the public on the history of the White House.
  • Kayla Whelan, a student designer at Montserrat College of Art, won the Association’s national art school design competition to create this year’s design.
  • Kayla will graduate from Montserrat College of Art in May of 2016 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in Graphic Design.
  • Montserrat College of Art is located in Beverly, Massachusetts, with a student population of 400. A variety of concentrations in the fine and applied arts are offered, with minors in art history and creative writing.

Complied by the White House Historical Association. Please credit the Association by its full name when using this as background material. Specific sources consulted available upon request. 

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About the white house historical association

First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy envisioned a restored White House that conveyed a sense of history through its decorative and fine arts. She sought to inspire Americans, especially children, to explore and engage with American history and its presidents. In 1961, the White House Historical Association was established to support her vision to preserve and share the Executive Mansion’s legacy for generations to come. Supported entirely by private resources, the Association’s mission is to assist in the preservation of the state and public rooms, fund acquisitions for the White House permanent collection, and educate the public on the history of the White House. Since its founding, the Association has given more than $50 million to the White House in fulfillment of its mission.

To learn more about the White House Historical Association, please visit

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