Directly across the Entry and Cross Hall from the front door is a series of parlors named after their color schemes;The Green, Blue and Red rooms.
These rooms have held a variety of functions over the years but are all currently decorated in an empire style (early 19th century). I suppose they have been the most popular entertaining rooms of the white house for their proximity to the entry, their access to the south portico as well as their intimate scale.
The blue room serves as a reception area and is the most formal of the 3 spaces based on the shape of the room, an oval. The color comes from the wallpaper border, sumptuous curtains and upholstery.
The view from this room is stunning, right on axis with the crescent fountain with views of the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial beyond.
The tree in the center of the room is the official tree of the white house (each room seems to have at least one!) and represents the simple gifts of our nation from coast to coast.The Blue room has been home to the official White House Christmas tree since First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy switched locations from the more formal East Room.
The 19.5' tall tree scrapes the ceiling and is crowned with a shaft of wheat.
A friend had asked me how the plan dealt with the odd corners the oval rooms created (which the available drawings don't really make clear). They are used for storage behind these beautiful wooden doors along short vestibules.
The Green Room (which reminded me more than any other room of an old folks home lounge, I had to say it....) was used to celebrate preserving and cherishing the gifts of nature (fitting: green). Therefore the decorations were all of recyled magazines and newspapers.
This was a favorite room of Thomas Jefferson and he used it as his dining room. However, James Madison had it repurposed as a parlor which it has functioned as ever since.
The art in this room was some of my favorite. I was stunned to see this John Singer Sargent painting.
Fittingly, there is a marvelous view of the Jefferson memorial from his dining room.
The curtains had this detail on them -what are these red tassel-like things called? Did they ever serve a purpose or are they purely decorative; Who knows? I'll call them bobbins.
The Red Room is the parlor which first ladies typically use to receive their guests. It is also where President Hayes was sworn in (1877).
The New York made American Empire styled furniture dates from the 1820s while the fireplace was installed in 1819.
I loved these gilt metal sconces against the dramatic red walls. Join me tomorrow as we continue the tour!