Over the years with different men living in it as president, this room has gone through some very drastic changes. Straight ahead is a huge half-moon Tiffany window. To the left you can see a grand staircase leading up to this beautiful hall.
“Before 1869, the West Sitting Hall was little more than a staircase landing. The presidents and first ladies would descend to the Cross Hall below on state occasions. President Ulysses Grant had the grand stair remodeled, allowing sitting space by the window.
Charles McKim removed the steps completely in 1902 and the defunct landing became a private sitting area. Eleanor Roosevelt, who screened the area off from the Central Hall, particularly enjoyed it. In the subsequent Truman renovation, architects enclosed the hall with solid partitions and created a living room. At that time, the kitchen elevator was extended to this floor, and the door opened into this room; the Kennedy renovation rerouted it into the little hall when the room to the north was converted into the Family Kitchen.
Avoiding the Family Dining Room on the first floor, the Eisenhowers dined on TV trays here, simultaneously watching two “porthole” television sets.” (The White House Museum)
Above is a photo of Frances Folsom Cleveland, wife of President Grover Cleveland, taken in 1888 in front of the half-moon Tiffany window. I love the look. The sheer curtains are just my style too.
I think that making this huge space into a sitting area was a great idea. I am not sure that I like it without the staircase though. Additionally, I tend to be a purist when it comes to older homes being renovated. I can understand updating things to accommodate progress, but not destroying beauty in the process.
Above is a photo of the staircase demolition at the bottom leading to a long hall.
Picture above is Jessie Woodrow Wilson, daughter of the resident, Woodrow Wilson, in a wedding portrait taken in front of the half-moon window. The date was November 25, 1913.
I wonder at what point were the Tiffany windows removed.
So, do you like the many transformations of the west sitting room over the years? Would you have kept the staircase or taken it out? What do you think of each administration’s decorating style?
I love the staircase that was there, but without it, it does give the sitting hall more privacy. I never would have taken them out though.
I love how the half-moon window looks in the photo with the Nixon’s in it. The window treatment are gorgeous, and not obscuring the beautiful view. Just having a window like that is awesome, and I would never completely cover it up.
It also looks like that beautiful wall mirror (seen in picture 3 and 4) was eventually taken out as well. What a shame!