Thursday, December 30, 2010

White House: China Room

The China room on the ground floor is now also referred to as the Dining Room. Architects McKim, Meade & White had designated the room a cloak room in the 1902 renovation, but in 1917, Mrs. Woodrow Wilson requisitioned the room to display the growing collection of presidential china. The room has a red color scheme based on the elegant 1924 portrait of Mrs. Calvin Coolidge, Grace. The shelves that display the china are red velvet, the curtains are red silk taffeta and the room is finished off with an early 20th-century Indo-Ispahan rug. The room has more of the salvaged wood paneling, which was again, painted under the Boudin redecoration. I love the regency style chandelier!
Before paneling, the room had smaller built-in cupboards which you can see below in 1948. I guess thats fitting as there was less china at the time! The cupboards were created more shallow however, after the paneling, and a few of the larger items could not be included. I call that a major oops!
This image below shows the Boudin Kennedy-era redecoration. The paneling was glazed grey with white details.
As the collection continues to grow, parts of it are housed in the corridor in pieces of furniture.
I loved the china of President Harrison, with the edge band of navy blue with raised gilt stalks of corn!
Included in the same case was President's Harrison elegant cut crystal.

22 comments:

Mark D. Ruffner said...

What an elegant room! I love the fact that it's multi-purpose. Years ago, the Smithsonian sold replicas of the Lincoln china, and I've been kicking myself ever since for not having at least bought a cup!

La Petite Gallery said...

I am here once again, another happy New year.
Great post

yvonne

Woody said...

That portrait of Grace Coolidge is SO beautiful. I can understand decorating the room around it--it's more of an eyecatching feature of the room than the china.

quintessence said...

Looks like we finally have a room with some decent curtains! And agree with you - the chandelier is magnificent. Even though they may not have been big enough, I somehow prefer the older narrower cabinets with the muntins. And just LOVE the beautiful portrait!

An Aesthete's Lament said...

the monroe china is my favorite.

home before dark said...

AD in the China Room...heaven on your earth? Love this, of course. But, really AD, I prefer friends who use their dishwasher and under their beds and any flat secure surface to store china!

The Down East Dilettante said...

Dish queen heaven!

Personally, I think that we should replace the horrid portrait of Clinton in the main hall with this one of Grace...much better scale

BWS said...

I simply love this series, a great holiday gift from you to all of us.

The Devoted Classicist said...

Am I the only one who thinks the chandelier over the dining table could benefit from a foot or two more chain?

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Devoted, definitely could -but I think as the table is a recent addition they never changed the fixture out.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

HBD -you know me too well, LOL!

Marie Arden said...

Oh so pretty what I wouldn't give to look at all the china carefully and wouldn't it be nice to have lovely cabinets for storage like the ones here!!
Happy New Year loved the tour Merci

Thombeau said...

Wishing you a most marvelous 2011! Cheers!

xoxox
Thom

Kathy said...

A.D......I have really enjoyed your "White House Series"....and hope that there is more to come for 2011?
I was over at The Huffington Post this morning, and they have posted some of the un-seen photos taken of the Obamas this past year. Coupled with your series, I feel a little more White House savvy!...Hope your 2011 brings you all the best...K

lifeonthecutoff said...

Of all the first ladies' portraits, Grace Coolidge's is about my favorite. Her elegance and, yes, grace, are captivating. I have always wanted to be in the china room, which is what it will remain in name for me. I didn't realize it was patterned after Mrs. Coolidge's portrait.

I have truly enjoyed your White House series. Happy New Year!

sandrajonas.com said...

Another fabulous tour!! Thank you so much.Hope there is more for 2011.

Happy New Year Stefan.

24 Corners said...

Well I hope 'they' at the White House will be using some of this beautiful china and crystal to celebrate bringing in the new year. I like Harrison's choices very much also.

Happy New Year Stefan...may 2011 bring you an abundance of delightful travels & tours to share with us all (sorry if that sounded a bit selfish), and thank you so much for 2010's wonderful jaunts!
xo J~

Karena said...

Thank you Stefan for bringing us so much beauty always.

The portrait of Grace Coolidge takes my breathe away!

Happy New Years!

Xoxo
Karena
Art by Karena

Flo said...

Beautiful post, as has been this whole WH series of yours. I'm chompin' to get in there and correct some scale problems that have arisen over time. The red velvet-lined vitrines need to be heightened by one more shelf, raising them closer to the height of the defining portrait and curtain rods; and a transom of some sort needs to be added/suggested over the service door. Get a newly-scaled height line established all around the room relating directly to the portrait. The room can handle it.

Nita {ModVintageLife} said...

I have thoroughly enjoyed your tour of the White House. I'd love to have a book that shows all the interior changes that have been done to it over the years. So amazing that each presidency just decides to do this and that...seems there should be a panel of experts so that nothing gets redone that shouldn't be. I live in a historic home and have to have approval to change anything outside...seems there should be rules about this house.

Jeff Freeland said...

Sorry folks, that dining room table was just brought in to hold the excessiv holiday decorations. This room is another ante room for the ladies. The seating is minimal, a red silk covered Rococo Revival gilt bourne under the chandelier. The real focus is the china, as it should be.

The four wood paneled rooms; Library, Vermeil, China, and the unseen Map Room were originally simply waxed. The paneling was made from wooden beams removed from the White House in the 1952 rebuilding.

And while we are talking about reusing old building materials, the wooden paneling out the family elevator came to the house in the 1902 renovation. It was a part of the roof truss of Old South Church in Boston where Founding Fathers plotted and planned. And excess stone from the White House was made into a bolection mantel for the Map Room (since replaced).

Last, souvenir kits of parts of the White House were created in 1952. The public could buy enough wood to make a gavel, bookends, or a walking stick, or enough bricks to construct a fireplace. Each kit came with a brass label of authenticity, to be attached to the finished project. It was surprisingly not a great success.

Jeff Freeland said...


A thought about the frequent redecoration and Nita's concern that a committee should be created to prevent inappropriate changes. The committee exists and it has frozen the rooms in the style of early 1970s museum rooms. It is tragically design by committee now. Tepid at best. A genius like Boudin would never be able to do what he did for Jackie today.