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Mar 01, 1999 Washington, D.C.

The White House Historical Association announces the publication of the Spring 1999 issue of White House History, a special thematic issue focusing on the Truman Renovation of the White House from 1948 to 1952.

Robert L. Breeden, chairman of the Board of Directors of the White House Historical Association notes in his foreward that “During the administration of President Harry S. Truman (1945 – 53), the White House underwent a renovation and expansion that brought more extensive alterations than the fire in 1814 . . . . Many people are not aware that the White House they see today is largely Truman’s.”

An article by William P. O’Brien provides background on Truman and his presidency. In “Reality and Illusion: The White House and Harry S. Truman,” O’Brien discusses Truman’s controversial balcony, which was added to the South Portico in 1947, and tells of the circumstances leading up to the complete demolition and rebuilding of the interior of the White House.

In “Tempest in a Teapot: Truman’s Failed Attempt at an Office Addition,” Elizabeth Beard Goldsmith tells the story of an extensive office addition – designed to alleviate cramped working conditions and provide a state of the art auditorium which was never built.

William B. Bushong describes the career of the architect that worked on White House projects for nearly 20 years in “Lorenzo Simmons Winslow: Architect of the White House, 1932-1952.” Before undertaking President Truman’s renovations, Winslow worked for President Franklin D. Roosevelt; he designed FDR’s swimming pool in 1933, directed the building of the White House Library in 1935, and designed the East Wing, which was completed in 1942.

“Pictures of the Operation: Abbie Rowe Photographs the White House Renovation,” by Clay Bauske is a pictorial essay showing the renovation work. Rowe’s job as official White House photographer for the renovation was to produce the visual record of the “demolition and rebirth of the President’s House”; many of his dramatic photographs of the gutted interior, the men at work, and the exterior construction sites are published in the issue.

In “President Truman’s Televised Tour” Rex W. Scouten, who worked in the White House for nearly 50 years, remembers the day in May 1952 when a proud President Truman led Walter Cronkite and other reporters on the first televised tour of the White House, showing the newly remodeled mansion to an estimated 30 million viewers.

“To Own a Piece of the White House: The Souvenir Program of the Truman Renovation,” by William G. Allman explains how items salvaged during the demolition of the original interior of the White House were sold to the public and fashioned as mementos.

“The White House Collection: The Truman Interiors,” by White House curator Betty C. Monkman tells of the furnishings and décor of the newly revived interiors and of the gifts given to Truman for the renovated White House.

White House History is published twice each year by the White House Historical Association and features articles on White House history, architecture, fine and decorative arts, and gardens, as well as stories about the occupants of the White House and their experiences while living there. The fall 1999 issue will feature “George Washington’s Vision of the White House” with articles on his role in the siting and design of the White House. This issue will mark the 200th anniversary of his death in December 1799.

For more information, please visit shop.whitehousehistory.org.

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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