In case you are unaware the East wing of the white house is the place that the president resides in. The West wing of the white house is where all the business is conducted (The Oval Office). Yesterday I was standing outside of the South gate watching a security guard through the bars of the fence, freezing in only a suit in the middle of winter.
We were waiting for my friends cousin X (a secret service agent) to find us so that he could give us the tour. He works at the white house doing top secret squirrelly kind of things .
Boy was it cold. I can’t believe how much they have already transformed the streets for the inauguration. Quite crazy. Bleachers have been erected everywhere and on the street corners in the surrounding vicinity there’s a rush of activity, bleachers being erected, buildings being pieced together. It’s a loud construction zone around here. A lot like bees I would say. Within minutes we found X (we were at the wrong gate) but he easily buzzed us in, privileges.
We went through a small building used for checking everyone in, making sure you have no weapons, issuing badges, that sort of thing. Then we headed 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 by the doors decked out in everything, guns clipped on, and they had M-16’s strapped around their waists. X knew them and I smiled and said hello as we passed by.
There is so much history in the white house that it emanates off of all the objects in the rooms as you walk by. I kept thinking of the movie National Treasure (as any normal person would) because of the history they came up with for the movie . 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. The place was steeped with facts and photos of times past. It was like walking straight into the past.
Entering another hallway X said that this was dedicated to all of the first ladies. A picture of 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. X 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 used to sleep in this room to guard the president before the secret service because the secret service. They also had a picture of George Washington, the original that was in the first white house before the first White House was burned down. When they realized that an attack was inevitable they took the picture from the wall and fled, saving it from burning with the rest of the house.
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.
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, X 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 this 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 was actually the first painting in the white house that was painted by an African American.
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.
What a great day to enjoy American History!
This article appeared first on The Cassey Excursion.