Jacqueline Kennedy and the reconstruction of the White House
You cannot even imagine how much taxpayer money was spent on the arrangement of the White House. And I’ll even tell you more - a part of this money wasn’t even provided for the arrangement of the residence of the President of the USA. But first things first.
You need to understand that everything that Jacqueline Kennedy did along with her husband she did exclusively for him, her family and herself. It was in that order. She instilled a sense of style in Jack Kennedy and taught him how to dress, she set up their house in Georgetown and, despite the fact that the house and its decoration cost a fortune, the absolute ascetic Jack always liked the house and he recognized Jackie
But the future president was to live not in Georgetown, but in the White House. According to Jackie herself, after the first visit to the White House, where Mamie Eisenhower gave her a tour, she had a “two-hour fit of tears”. She understood that the budget is tiny, but a lot needs to be done.
At that time, the White House was a pitiful sight — the Eisenhowers were ascetics, rather elderly people, and they were not particularly interested in life. Kennedy was young, rich and had children, respectively, the house needed comfort. In the meantime, in the reception halls there were brass spittoon bowls, in the guest rooms there were drinking fountains fitted into the walls, as in state institutions (by the way, in America and now they are everywhere in old buildings, in hospitals). In general, for Mamie Eisenhower, the wife of a soldier who was accustomed to travel and Spartan conditions, was ok, but for Kennedy, who were used to a different level of life, it was not at all that.
There were also interesting finds, for example, two hatches on both sides of the door, which led from the Oval drawing room to the second-floor hall; there were two television screens. The Eisenhowers liked to watch television over dinner, but they had different film flicks: the President watched westerns, his wife soap operas. They had dinner with trays of food on their knees, there was not much furniture. There was no central heating either, it was simply outdated, and the fireplaces were not used. Toilets, oddly enough, too, was not enough, the guests all the time looking for them on the first floor.A similar problem worried the President on the first working day: his assistants found a note written by John F. Kennedy: “Let us, Jackie, declare war on the toilet paper, where the hell is she ?!”
Senior Master of Ceremonies of the White House JB West wrote:
“The new first lady changed the White House beyond recognition, subordinating it to her refined way of life. But the most important change is the presence of Jacqueline Bouvier-Kennedy herself. Thirty years younger than all the previous first ladies I have worked for, she, I discovered, was an extraordinarily multi-faceted personality: an elegant, haughty, full of self-esteem, real queen in public, and simple and mischievous in everyday life. She possessed iron will and firmness, spoke in a low voice, was so gentle and insinuating that she easily imposed her will on people, but they didn’t even know about it. "
In addition to the army of designers, painters, plumbers and plasterers who reworked the White House, philanthropists were attracted (after all, the allocated 50 thousand dollars was enough for only two weeks of work, for which only rooms for the family managed to do,and the ceremonial halls and office premises didn’t have enough money), as well as the White House Committee of Fine Arts, which was supposed to search for “authentic furniture of the White House’s construction and raise funds to purchase the aforementioned furniture as a gift to the White House. Support from art historians and antiquaries had Henry Dupont, a multimillionaire, the creator of the museum-estate Winterthur.
This provided her with access to the entire world antiquarian market, useful connections, as well as a lot of money from people who, for one reason or another, were not indifferent to the project to remake the White House. And Jackie turned it into a national project! Accordingly, she didn’t just equip her house, she did a great job at remaking the White House and turning it into a museum that would go to future generations. All the objects of art donated to the White House could not be transferred to private collections and the future first ladies could not change anything in his decoration.
The designer of the White House was the Frenchman Stefan Buden, he had to hide as well as the outfits from Givanchy. Therefore, Sister Perish and Dupont were officially engaged in everything as a consultant in art.
By the way, the famous table made from the frames of the Rezalut ship, donated by Queen Victoria to President Rutherd Hayes as a sign of Anglo-American friendship, was restored precisely at the insistence of Jacqueline Kennedy. And the table is now in the White House.
Since, Budyon diligently hid from the press (after all, they hid from the fact that the foreigner’s residence was being arranged at the President’s residence), there were problems with the implementation of his plans. For example, a blue fabric with an embroidered eagle for upholstery in the Oval Office was originally produced in an American factory, it turned out badly. The eagle was like a plucked chicken. Then Jackie asked Boudin to find another manufacturer and they found him ... in Paris. As a result, the fabric was delivered in the strictest secrecy to the embassy in Paris, and then by diplomatic mail in the United States.
Jacqueline's personal charm, of course, also played a role. So Walter Annenberg, later the US ambassador in London, was the proud owner of a portrait of Benjamin Franklin for $ 250,000. One day he heard Jackie’s soft voice, which she had never met before: “Mr. Annenberg, now you are the most prominent citizen of Philadelphia, like Benjamin Franklin was once,” she said, “that's why I thought about you.Why wouldn't one great citizen of Philadelphia give the White House a portrait of another great Philadelphian? ”Republican Annenberg thought for a few days, then he said goodbye to a quarter million, and the portrait of Franklin went to the White House.
Personal charm, great connections and money work wonders. Therefore, the White House has deservedly become one of the symbols of America. In the memoirs of the receptions of that time, many emphasize that this was a new era in the life of the White House. And even if Jackie spent on this national treasure, the sums considerably exceeded the allocated budget, she saved money on drinking (no, alcohol was purchased expensive, but unfinished glasses, if “there were no lipstick stains” could be served again, and gifts to children, gave to charity, gave to relatives and acquaintances), she went down in history as the First Lady who opened the White House to people and made them proud of him.
“And remember this,” said Jackie Westu.