1948-1952: Reconstructing the White House

“By the time Truman became president, the decay could no longer be ignored. As the White House Museum describes it, “Floors no longer merely creaked; they swayed. The president’s bathtub was sinking into the floor. A leg of Margaret’s piano broke through the floor in what is today the Private Dining Room. Engineers declared the whole house to be in imminent danger of collapse.”

“Over the next three years, the interior of the White House was removed and completely replaced, and President Truman and his family lived across the street. The result was a sound, durable structure that basically reproduced the original White House. But as a 1962 Post article noted:

“all the mellow feeling of the old house gave way to a stark atmosphere of solidity. As one Washington columnist observed, “The White House is safe, all right, but it has completely lost its charm. That restoration took the heart out of the building. When those floors creaked, you knew Lincoln had been walking there before you. Now it has no more appeal than the Pentagon.”

- Saturday Evening Post

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Avatar of Chris

Goggles aficionado. Retronaut’s founder and curator.

6 Responses

  1. reno

    My Grandfather was one of the workers on this job and told us how the White house sourly needed the repairers.

  2. Kevin

    I knew the white house had undergone many upgrades and repairs over the years, but I had no idea it had been completely gutted and redone.

  3. Steve

    So the folks who have recently been able to say they’ve slept in Lincoln’s bedroom really haven’t.

  4. Sky

    It was never Lincoln’s bedroom. It is called the Lincoln bedroom because his portrait hangs on the wall there.


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