Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
President Truman's Renovations
From the time Harry S. Truman moved into the White House, he had noticed
signs that the building was under a great deal of stress: “The floors pop and the
drapes move back and forth,” and “[t]he damned place is haunted, sure as shoot-
in'.” In 1948, after some investigation, engineers confirmed that it was structur-
al weakness, not ghosts, that was causing the problems. Some people said the
house was standing “only from force of habit.” The only certain solution was
to move the Truman family to nearby Blair House and completely rebuild the
White House within its external walls. Contractors gutted the inside of the build-
ing in its entirety. Workers then built a steel frame, similar to those found in
large office buildings, inside the remaining shell. Within the frame, the White
House was recreated, room by room, from scratch, but in keeping with the ori-
ginal design. Most structural elements that can be seen today were built between
1948 and 1952, although a few earlier elements had been carefully dismantled
and reinstalled during reconstruction. America's three major networks broad-
cast the first-ever television tour of the residence in 1952. President Truman
himself proudly led the tour and even entertained viewers by playing a tune on
one of the pianos in the East Room . A decade later, that arbiter of style Jac-
queline Kennedy again restored many of the period features.
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