In case you are unaware the East wing of the white house is the part that the president resides in. The West wing of the white house is where all the business is conducted (The Oval Office) and the North and South is the front and back. Yesterday I was standing outside of the South gate watching a security man and freezing in only my suit waiting to get in. We were waiting for my friends cousin P (a secret service agent) to find us so that he could give us the tour. He works at the white house at all different times and he also works at other buildings in downtown D.C. all of them not allowed to be discussed here.
Boy was it cold. I didn’t want to be bothered with a coat though and neither did the five people that I was with so we wore our suits and froze. I can’t believe how much they have already transformed the streets for the inauguration. Quite crazy. Bleachers have been erected everywhere and on all street corners in the surrounding vicinity and there are people moving things in, building different structures, and preparing things everywhere. A lot like bees I would have to say. When we found P (it turns out that we were at the wrong side of the gate and had to go to the North side) he used his security clearance to get us right in. I loved that.
We went through the building that they have set up for checking you for weapons and then down the ramp and back outside to enter the white house on the East side. yay! Walking in I immediately was mesmerized. There were two guards standing decked out in everything, guns clipped everywhere and they had M-16 strapped around their waists. Serious soldiers. P knew them and I walked up and said hello as well. They were actually very nice.
There is so much history in the white house you can practically feel it. I kept thinking of National Treasure and all the history they made up for the movies. I don’t know why? Moving down the first hallway I started stopping and looking at all of the many picture frames that had all sorts of different events encased in them. Frames dedicated to first ladies and all that they have done, different inaugurations at the white house for presidents and all of that good stuff. I read all of them, this stuff kind of fascinates me :).
Entering another hallway P said that this was dedicated to all of the first ladies. For some reason Hillary was hanging up on the main wall and then moving down there were pictures of various different first ladies that have lived here.
Fun Fact: George Washington is not the first person to live in the White House. He started the plans but died before the White House was finished. John Adams was the first president to live in the White House.
On the side we saw different parlors that they still use of course in excellent condition. On the right, was the White House library, where they have over 27,000 different volumes.
Walking up to the first floor we entered a huge room which is designated the gold room. Wow, The chandeliers were massive and everything inside of it was ornate and quite alive. All decked in gold. P said that the chandeliers are cleaned twice a year and an entire team of people come in and take each one apart a strand at a time to dip and clean off. Wow. He also said that civil war soldiers slept in this room to guard the president before the secret service came into being. They also had a picture of George Washington, the original that was in the first white house before it was burned down. They new they would be attacked so they took it out and it survived.
There are portraits of presidents everywhere. The portrait of JFK does not have his face showing. This is because the man who does all of the portraits of the presidents never saw his eyes before he was assassinated and refused to paint the picture any other way. I found it quite humorous the fact that they had JFK and Ronald Reegan in the same hallway across from each other. They might be good friends in heaven now but the Great Debate stated otherwise. They also have a picture of FDR standing up which is obviously peculiar, but apparently he was at the bottom of the steps and stood up to be transfered to a different chair and they captured a picture of it and made it into a portrait.
There was only one wedding in the white house and that was president Grover Cleveland.
The rooms are all sectioned by color. There is the Gold Room, the Green Room, The Blue Room, The Red Room, and the main hallways. In the green room P told us a peculiar story about a picture of Independence Hall that was located there. He said that someone was over in India and purchased the painting there for seven dollars. They then brought it back to the states (the story of how that happened is unknown) and it ended up at the white house. Now the painting is priceless and it was purchased for $7. Above the picture of Independence Hall is a picture of the coast and this painting is actually the first painting int he white house that was painted by an African American. I have a feeling it might become Obama’s favorite one.
The second to oldest painting located in the white house is the portrait of Benjamin Franklin and the oldest painting hangs in the presidents bedroom.
The history here is overwhelming and crazily we were able to walk out the South Entrance and stand on the steps. It felt good. Reallll good. I like it there.
After our tour was over we went down to the newly renovated Smithsonian of American history. We didn’t have time to check everything out but my focus points were science and technology, war, and entertainment.
Highlights from these sections: Dorthy’s ruby slippers, The puffy shirt form Seinfeld, World War II, Dumbo, the house of miniatures, and the Star Spangled Banner. How do they have the original Star Spangled Banner?!? No photos were allowed but it was pretty sweet.
Fact about that flag: One of the stars was cut off of it as a memorium in the 18oo’s.
I had a fun filled day of history yesterday and I enjoyed every second of it.
Confessions of a Writer<3