TOURING THE WHITE HOUSE ON A COLD EARLY SPRING MORNING
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) JFK+50 took our anxiously-awaited self-guided tour* of the White House this morning, March 23, 2017. We arrived at the Visitors Entrance in front of the north side of the Treasury Building just after 7 a.m. and waited in line until about 7:40.
We picked a really cold morning, at least for early spring in the Nation's Capital. The temperature was in the upper 20s. When the line starting moving we passed through three checkpoints. The first took our "Boarding Pass" and photo identification. The second included a body scan and the third required removing cameras, keys, cell phones, etc. from our persons & putting them on a conveyor belt for scanning.
We then walked into the East Wing hallway toward the steps leading up to the main floor. There was a slight delay waiting at the bottom of the steps. A security agent told us that to our left behind tall barriers was the hall leading to the West Wing. It was from behind those barriers President Donald Trump emerged to greet visitors of the first tour held after his inauguration.
We then walked up the steps to the EAST ROOM. Originally designated as the Public Audience Chamber, the East Room came to be known as the Banquet Room. The largest room in the executive mansion, the East Room has been used for award ceremonies, concerts, dances, funerals, press conferences and weddings.
There are some very historical objects in this room. First is the Landsdowne portrait of George Washington, the work of Gilbert Stuart in 1794, that was saved from capture by Dolley Madison. There is also a portrait of Martha Washington by Eliphalet Andrews hanging nearby. There are two of President Monroe's candelabras on the mantle in the room.
We discovered the Steinway grand piano is no longer located in the East Room. Although it is occasionally brought in for special concerts, today it is near the front window in the Entrance Foyer.
*Tours are arranged through your congressman's office well in advance. You receive email confirmation of your acceptance for the tour only a couple of weeks before the actual date. While the estimated time of the tour is 45 minutes, it took us two hours from the time we arrived until the time we left.
"The White House, An Historic Guide," White House Historical Association, Washington, D.C., 1962.
White House Tours Boarding Pass, whitehouse.gov/