National Geographic : 1961 Jan
her household staff, inspect the kitchen, and look over the handsome, historic china collec tions that go with being the Nation's leading hostess. Wherever she likes, she will make changes to fit her own brand of homemaking. That is, except in one part of the house. By law, the formal first floor-with its famous gold-draped East Room, Green, Blue, Red, and State Dining Rooms-is perma nently furnished in 18th- and early 19th-cen tury styles (foldout painting, pages 6-8). It is on public exhibit five days a week, and not even the President can change it without approval of the Presidentially appointed Fine Arts Commission of Washington. Yet these museum rooms are constantly used for official entertaining. Here each First Lady in turn holds receptions for 2,000, teas for 500, dinners for 100. When her husband's term of office ends, and reporters ask how it feels to face being plain housewife again, it is this glittering phase of White House life that comes to mind. "It has been a great privilege to have lived in this lovely home, which is so much a part of our country's life," said Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower, in answer to my own question. "But it will be wonderful to get to my very own home at Gettysburg." Traditionally, the President and his family occupy the west half of the second floor. These rooms have known the day-by-day home life, the intimate joys and griefs of 32 White House families. Here Mrs. Andrew Johnson rocked and sewed, in 1868, awaiting word of her hus band's impeachment trial by Congress. "I knew he would be acquitted," she said when she learned of his enemies' defeat. "I knew it." On this floor, in 1893, Esther Cleveland was born, the only President's child ever to come (Continued on page 13) Military aides in dress uniforms line the entrance hall during a reception last fall for the Crown Prince and Princess of Japan. Here, at a farewell party in 1837, Presi dent Andrew Jackson provided a 1,400-pound cheese. Thousands of guests, filling stom achs and pockets, demolished the cheese in two hours, but its odor lingered for weeks. EKTACHROMEBY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICPHOTOGRAPHERS B. ANTHONYSTEWARTAND JOHN E. FLETCHER© N.G .S.