• Mary Evans Seeley

Presidents choose the Red Room

Updated: Oct 2, 2018

From traditional to contemporary, paintings of the Red Room became the art for four Official Presidential Christmas Cards and Gifts Prints.

"Season's Greetings from the White House" is now available in its 8th edition. To complement the launch of my new book, I've created annual ornaments, of which the Red Room is the third in the series.

The Red Room is one of three parlors on the State Floor of the White House. It was chosen by four Presidents and First Ladies to grace their Official Christmas Cards and Gifts.

The Red Room has seen many uses over the years. Originally, the room served as “the President’s Antechamber” for the Cabinet Room and Library. Dolley Madison converted the room into the “Yellow Drawing Room,” ordered a piano and red curtains, and held fashionable Wednesday night receptions.

After the British set fire to the White House in 1814, President James Monroe purchased Empire Style furniture for the Red Room. Gilbert Stuart’s portraits of Dolley Madison and George Washington were originally hung in the Red Room - dubbed the “Washington Parlor.” The Madisons, Lincolns, Grants, and Kennedys all used the room as a music chamber. Fearing a disruption of power, President-elect Rutherford B. Hayes was secretly sworn into office, in the Red Room, on the eve of his Inauguration in 1876.

In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt hired Charles McKim to renovate the White House. He added burgundy silk velvet to the walls and upholstered Turkish-style furniture in the same color. During the Truman renovation of the White House, Red Room furnishings were restored by B. Altman’s Department Store in New York A red silk damask was chosen to cover the walls. In 1954, French President Vincent Auriol gave the Louis XVI style mantel clock to the White House. It found a home in the Red Room.

I found it interesting that so many Presidents used and loved the Red Room for various purposes. In researching further, I found that four Presidents chose the Red Room to adorn their Official White House Christmas Cards over the years.

To discover who the four First Families were, to use the Red Room for their Christmas cards and prints, go to "The Collection" blog page.

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