Official Residences Around the World
by Abby Clouse-Radigan
This survey of the official residences and offices of some fifty nations around the world represents nearly one thousand years of building and renovating. Who lives in these residences? What were their original purposes and how have they been adapted for modern use? How do they project and preserve each nation's heritage? Are there offices for the functions of government? And spaces for official entertaining? How is the art and culture of each nation showcased? Are there museums, chapels, gardens? In this book, the first of its kind, Dr. Abby Clouse-Radigan answers these questions and reveals the myriad ways these edifices reflect a nation's political systems, culture, architecture, landscape, and history.
The Stephen Decatur House: A History
by James Tertius de Kay, Michael Fazio, Osborne Phinizy Mackie, and Katherine Malone-France
A celebrity for his heroics in the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812, Commodore Stephen Decatur built his home in 1818 within sight of the President’s House with prize money awarded to him by Congress for his military victories. He commissioned Benjamin Henry Latrobe, America’s first professional architect, to create a home “fit for fine entertaining” and the resulting three-story square townhouse constructed with red brick in the Federal fashion is known as Decatur House today. Stephen Decatur’s time in the house was cut short in 1820 when he was mortally wounded in a famous duel in nearby Bladensburg. After his death, his widow Susan Decatur rented the house to such prominent figures as Henry Clay, Martin Van Buren, and Edward Livingston, and ultimately sold it to John Gadsby. In 1872, General Edward Beale purchased the house and created a fashionable Victorian home. In 1956, Marie Beale, the last owner, bequeathed the house to the National Trust for Historic Preservation; and in 2011 the White House Historical Association became a co-steward of the historic site.
Timed to mark the bicentennial of the house in the President’s Neighborhood, the book is the first comprehensive history of the house, its occupants, architecture, collections, preservation, and evolution from private home to historic site, as well as its many presidential connections. It features nearly 200 newly commissioned photographs from the Decatur House decorative arts collection, including naval trophies, desks and other furniture, never-before-published funeral and coffin receipts, silver, Chinese Export ware, portraits, letters, and personal items such as fans and quilts.
This volume chronicles the history of the house and its occupants in four parts—a biography of Stephen Decatur and his naval accomplishments by naval historian James Tertius de Kay; an architectural history by architect and architectural historian Michael Fazio; a study of the fine and decorative arts collection by appraiser Osborne Mackie; and an essay on the evolution of the house from private home to historic site by Katherine Malone-France, senior vice president for historic sites at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. An essay by Jessie Kratz, Historian at the National Archives and Records administration introduces a collection of documents that tell the story of enslaved persons who lived and worked in the house during the time after Decatur's death and before Beale’s purchase.
White House Historical Association President Stewart McLaurin describes the significance of Decatur and the namesake house: “This is a history of what was, but, just as importantly, what might have been. Commodore Stephen Decatur would likely have been president had he not accepted a challenge to a duel. Decatur House might have been forgotten had Latrobe not created an architectural masterpiece. The stately brick structure has survived to celebrate its bicentennial, but it might have been razed to make way for a federal building had it not been for the determination of early preservationists and the interest of no less than President Franklin D. Roosevelt and President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy.”
Mona Lisa in Camelot: How Jacqueline Kennedy and Da Vinci’s Masterpiece Charmed and Captivated A Nation
by Margaret Leslie Davis
The fascinating true story of a legend’s celebrated visit—and the cultural ambassador who helped bring her to America. In December 1962, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa set sail from Paris to New York for what many knew would be the riskiest art exhibition ever mounted. The fragile painting, sealed in a temperature-controlled, bulletproof box, traveled like a head of state accompanied by armed guards and constant surveillance. The driving force behind the famous painting’s high-profile visit was First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, who convinced French Cultural Minister André Malraux and National Gallery Director John Walker to share the masterpiece with the American people. She overcame the fierce objections of art officials who feared the journey would ruin the world’s most celebrated smile, and “Mona Mania” soon swept the nation as nearly two million Americans attended exhibits in Washington, D.C., and New York City. It was the greatest outpouring of appreciation for a single work of art in American history. And as only Jacqueline Kennedy could do, she infused America’s first museum blockbuster show with a unique sense of pageantry that ignited a national love affair with the arts. Gathering rare archival documents, acclaimed biographer Margaret Leslie Davis has woven a tantalizing saga filled with international intrigue and the irresistible charm of Camelot and its queen.
The first White House Historical Association edition of this title, it has been enhanced and expanded with items drawn from the archives of the National Gallery of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Stewart McLaurin, President of the White House Historical Association, writes, “Margaret Leslie Davis’s captivating account of the loan of the Mona Lisa by France is of special interest to the White House Historical Association because the circumstances that brought the masterpiece to the United States are the same circumstances that gave birth to the White House Historical Association. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy was determined to share the greatest painting in the world with the American people, and just as determined to make the White House a “living museum” accessible to the nation. More than half a century later, the Association that she inspired, which began with a single guidebook, continues to fulfill her vision by maintaining the museum quality of the beautiful State Rooms of the White House and by conducting thriving educational and publications programs.”
The White House Easter Egg Roll: A History for All Ages
by Jonathan Pliska and illustrated by John Hutton
It may have been First Lady Dolley Madison who first suggested the public egg roll that children enjoyed on Capitol Hill for decades until they wore out their welcome in 1876. In 1878 President Rutherford B. Hayes came to the rescue and invited the children to roll their Easter eggs on the White House Grounds. With its sloped South Lawn and more than 18 acres of parkland, the grounds remain a perfect setting for what has become the Annual White House Easter Egg Roll. As the celebration has grown beyond the traditional rolling of brightly dyed hard-boiled eggs to include such activities as “egg ball” during the Grover Cleveland administration; maypole dances during the Herbert Hoover era; a petting zoo during the Jimmy Carter years; autographed eggs during the Ronald Reagan administration; a special event for military families during the George W. Bush presidency; a focus on a healthy, active lifestyle during the Barack Obama presidency; and storytime with the first lady during the Donald Trump administration. But one thing remains the same—guests enjoy a wonderful day full of fun and merriment with the first family. With more than seventy newly commissioned whimsical illustrations that bring the event to life, this new history of the White House Easter Egg Roll reveals how each administration from Rutherford B. Hayes through Donald J. Trump has staged the annual event.
Jonathan Pliska is a landscape historian and author of A Garden for the President: A History of the White House Grounds. He has extensively explored and studied documents of the historic White House. He has written and edited Cultural Landscapes Inventories for the National Park Service, including one for the Ellipse, south of the White House Grounds. He lives, writes, and plants a garden of his own in Baltimore County, Maryland.