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Nov 17, 2016 Washington, D.C.

The White House Historical Association announced today the release of its new publication, Blair House: The President’s Guest House. Authored by preeminent White House historian William Seale, the beautiful 296-page slipcased book features a detailed exploration of the history of the official guest residence for the president of the United States.

One of the oldest buildings in the President’s Neighborhood, the house was erected as a private residence in 1824, and it was the home of Francis Preston Blair and his descendants from 1836 to 1942. The rich story of its evolution from private home to house of state—from the aftermath of the War of 1812, through the Civil War, threatened demolition, successful preservation, to the present day—is vividly told in this definitive illustrated volume.

Situated at 1651 Pennsylvania Avenue, across from the White House, and operated under the stewardship of the Department of State, this house welcomes visiting heads of state, ambassadors, and other notable guests of the White House. Today, in addition to functioning as The President’s Guest House, Blair House is a stage for internationally focused events and many initiatives for the Washington Diplomatic Corps hosted by the Chief of Protocol. It often serves as the residence of the president-elect in the days prior to the Inauguration and move into the White House. Blair House also provides accommodations for the family of a deceased former president during a state funeral.

Published in collaboration with The Blair House Restoration Fund, this book represents the first in-depth publication that explores both the Blair family’s history and the evolution of the president’s guest house over time. New photography is complemented by a significant number of historic images and illustrations. The book retails for $59.95 and is on sale beginning today by the White House Historical Association. 

The Association also opened this week to the public a free exhibition on Blair House and its rich presidential history. The history of the house and its historic role within the U.S. Department of State and the White House are explored through paintings, photographs, documents, and objects from the Blair House collection. Blair House, The President’s Guest House, will be open to the public through March 3, 2017. Hours are Monday through Saturday from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (closed holidays include: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Inauguration, and President’s Day).

About the Author

William Seale is an American historian and author whose work is focused on historical writing and restoration of historic American buildings, notably state capitols. His books include: The Imperial Season; The President’s House: A History; The White House: History of an American Idea; The Tasteful Interlude: American Interiors Through the Camera’s Eye; Recreating the Historic House Interior; The Virginia Governor’s Mansion; Temples of Democracy: The State Capitols of the USA; and many others. He is editor of White House History, the journal of the White House Historical Association.

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 $45 million to the White House in fulfillment of its mission. 

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

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