SAVING THE WHITE HOUSE FROM COLLAPSE

No matter who happens to be president at the time, we Americans take pride in our heritage and, one of the most important pieces of heritage standing today is the White House, the home to the nation's leader.  This strong and proud residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has stood the test of time for over 200 years... except for that one time it almost fell apart.

The White House had been burned by the British in 1814, it had undergone countless renovations from the installation of modern plumbing and electricity and, by the 1948's, the 148 year-old building was in danger.  Stress was cracking the walls and, shockingly enough, a survey ordered by congress showed that the White House was in imminent danger of collapse!

The East room ceiling was sagging eighteen inches, second hand bricks used for the foundation were disintegrating, the grand staircase was about to collapse, the plumbing was found to be makeshift and unsanitary,  century and a half year old timbers were rotting and had been drilled into further weakening them, the presidential bathtub was sinking into the floor (perhaps that was President Taft's fault), and most dangerously... a brand new steel roof was putting so much weight on the fragile building that it could not handle the stress.

The White House was doomed. It was only a matter of time before it caved in on itself... perhaps taking the President of the United States with it!

While it was determined that it would be cheaper to tear down the White House and build a new one, President Truman decided that the cultural value of the presidential residence was too great and ordered a complete renovation that began in 1949 and continued until 1952 at a cost of 5.7 million dollars.

President Truman moved into the Blair House across the street and workers began the task of saving an American icon.

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white house gutted truman restoration 1949 - 1951 (1)
President Truman and the Committee for the Renovation of the White House before all the work began in June, 1949.


The Lobby in December of 1949.


The hollowed out interior of the White House in 1950.


The East Room in 1950.


The lobby ceiling in 1950 revealing the aged split beams.


The Servant's Dining Room in 1950.


The second floor corridor, 1950.


Lower corridor, 1950.


Main staircase, 1950.


Clearing debris, 1950.


Bedroom and sitting room, 1950.


The Blue Room overlooking the Oval Office on the bottom level, 1950.


The shell of the White House in 1950.


Northeast corner of the White House in 1950.


Inside The Lincoln Bedroom in 1951.


The East Room in 1951.


Installing ductwork in 1951.  One of the upgrades the White House received was central heating and air conditioning.


The State Dining Hall, 1951.


Third floor corridor, 1951.


New Steps of the South Portico being erected in 1952.


State Dining Room, 1952.


Second floor corridor, 1952.


President Truman and his wife, First Lady Bess Truman, return home in March of 1952.


The finished Broadcast Room.


The new staircase.


The East Room.


The Oval Room.


The Blue Room.


The Green Room.


The Dining Hall.


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