Lighting the White House: From Candles to Electric Lights

Lighting the White House: From Candles to Electric Lights

Designed to be lit in the way common to the world at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the President’s House in 1800 had natural light streaming in through windows that stretched 14 feet high and 5 feet across. Over the years, renovations and redecoration have brought increasingly modern methods of lighting to the house, from oil lamps and chandeliers to electricity and solar panels.

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Mrs. Taft and the Cherry Blossoms

Mrs. Taft and the Cherry Blossoms

The plan to plant Japanese cherry trees along Potomac Drive came to fruition with the aid and influence of Mrs. Taft. In 1910 Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo presented the first trees as a “memorial of national friendship between the U.S. and Japan.” On March 27, 1912, Mrs. Taft and the Iwa Chinda, wife of the Vicount Sutemi Chinda, the Japanese Ambassador, planted the first two of more than 3,000 Yoshino cherry trees on the northern bank of the Tidal Basin.

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Elizabeth Keckly’s Memoir of the Lincoln White House

Elizabeth Keckly’s Memoir of the Lincoln White House

Called a “literary thunderbolt” and claiming to reveal “interesting if not startling information,” Behind the Scenes, Elizabeth’s Keckly’s 1868 memoir of her life, particularly her time in the White House as a dressmaker for First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln, produced a storm of controversy and even a parody.

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Visit the blog regularly to learn about the history of the White House and the President’s Neighborhood as well as the activities and programs at the David M. Rubenstein National Center for White House History at Decatur House, a research and educational institute founded in 2010 and housed at a National Trust for Historic Preservation site.

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