White House History Journal › The White House Neighborhood Revisited

White House History Celebrates 50 Years

Caroline Kennedy and Michelle Obama in the White House Green Room

Caroline Kennedy visits with First Lady Michelle Obama in the Green Room during a White House reception celebrating the White House Historical Association’s fiftieth anniversary. White House photo.

This issue of White House History, the semi-annual journal of the White House Historical Association, is the second of two journals dedicated to the White House neighborhood and Lafayette Square, just north of the White House. (Issue 27) Part one visited some of the history of the buildings and those who either built or inhabited them. In part two, “The White House Neighborhood Revisited,” our interest in the surroundings of the White House continues and includes both public and private places, all except one of which survives today.

White House History editor, William Seale writes, “It would be hard to imagine going to the White House to borrow a cup of sugar, but neighbors thought little of it a century ago. Nor was the owner of a rag top convertible, caught in a rainstorm, the least hesitant to drive beneath the shelter of FDR’s White House porch. The White House stood and stands in a neighborhood. The president is the only full time resident anymore, but Lafayette Square is lined with old houses, a venerable church and other buildings that are still used every day for business, study, and like us, the White House Historical Association, to produce this journal.”

Additionally, this anniversary edition celebrates the award-winning The White House: An Historic Guide with a look back at the making of the first edition in “Remembering My Mother in the White House on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the White House Historical Association,” by Caroline Kennedy.

This issue of the journal begins with Elizabeth Smith Brownstein’s “The Willard Hotel.” Many observers in Lincoln’s time thought it rivaled the White House and the Capitol as the hive of political activity. Caroline Kennedy writes fondly about “Remembering My Mother in the White House on the Occasion of the White House Historical Association’s Fiftieth Anniversary.” Richard F. Grimmet has sketched several of the most significant parishioners from a long and distinguished line in “Notable Prominent Neighbors: Personalities of Saint John’s Church.” Neil W. Horstman introduces and describes the renaissance of historic Decatur House in its new life as an education and research center in “The Association’s Decatur House on Lafayette Square: A Center for the Study of History.” Steven C. Love relates to American political leader and orator Robert G. Ingersoll, a household name in the 1870s when he occupied a now-vanished row house on Lafayette Square, in his “Platform Star: Robert G. Ingersoll in Washington.” Mary Ellen Scofield goes about “Unraveling the Dolley Myths.”

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 garden, as well as stories about the occupants of the White House and their experiences living there.

White House History is available for $6.95 per copy. To order please call toll-free 1-800-555-2451 or visit our website shop.whitehousehistory.org.

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The White House Historical Association, established in 1961, is a charitable nonprofit organization whose goal is to enhance the understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the White House. To fulfill its purpose, the White House Historical Association produces educational literature and films, develops special programs, and maintains a website interpreting the White House and its history and the persons and events associated with it. From private funding and the sale of its educational products, the association supports the acquisition of artwork and historic furnishings for the White House collection, contributes to the conservation of the public rooms, and furthers its educational mission.