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May 15, 2017 Washington, D.C. —
The White House Historical Association today announced the upcoming release of its latest book, A White House of Stone: Building America's First Ideal in Architecture by acclaimed historian William Seale. Drawn from documents public and private, governmental and institutional, American and Scottish, this book is about the stonemasons and stones of George Washington’s White House. Featuring new work by award-winning photographers Martin Radigan and Bruce M. White, the book includes dozens of specially commissioned photographs of the Aquia quarry on Government Island in Stafford, Virginia, from which the stone for the White House and Capitol was harvested in the 1790s to build the first buildings of the Federal City. The remaining outcroppings of rock still stand on the island, witnesses to White House history.
The Aquia stone walls are all that is left of the original White House, completed in 1800 and gutted by fire in 1814. As White House Historical Association President Stewart McLaurin explains, "Through the fires set by the British in 1814 and the major renovation of 1902, the exterior stone walls created by the Scots stonemasons remained. Then, in 1948, when it became necessary for President Harry S. Truman to gut the entire interior of the White House and reframe a solid infrastructure to make the house sound and safe, he demanded the original walls be preserved, authenticating the White House symbol for all time."
On why the Scots stonemasons make an interesting subject, Seale writes: “No record gives us their opinion or describes the pride that must have come with building a house for George Washington, the unblemished world hero of their time. We know little of what they thought except what we can surmise by placing them in the details of the life that surrounded them. We see what they built.” By telling the story behind the stone walls and their masons, this book provides a deeper look at what Seale calls “unquestionably the finest stone carving in eighteenth-century America.”
9.25 x 10.25
To pre-order the book, please visit Shop.WhiteHouseHistory.org or call toll-free 1-800-555-2451.
About the Author
William Seale is an American historian and author. He attended Southwestern University in Texas and completed his Ph.D. at Duke University in North Carolina. An independent scholar since 1975, he has written extensively on the White House and has participated in the restoration of many state capitols. His many books include the Imperial Season (2013); Blair House: The President’s Guest House (2016); and the two-volume The President’s House (1986 and 2008). He is editor of the journal White House History, the award-winning quarterly 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.