Looking west - East Room replica - Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum

Looking "west" at the main doors to the East Room in the replica of the White House East Room at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California.

 

The East Room in the White House is 80 feet by 37 feet. The White House was occupied in 1800, but the East Room not finished until 1826. Nearly bare of furniture, it was designed to be a meeting hall but was primarily used for banquets. The ceiling was originally covered in frescoes depicting cupids and flowers, while lace curtains and damask crimson drapery covered the windows. A carpet covered the wood floor.

 

President Ulysses S. Grant added two decorative beams across the ceiling of the East Room when he had it redone in 1873. The beams were supported by gold-and-white columns on either side, and the ceiling space between beams painted in soft blues and pinks to resemble a twilight sky. The walls were covered with gray and gold wallpaper, new mantels placed over the fireplaces, and rows of pilasters (false columns) added to the walls. Chandeliers lit by natural gas replaced the candle-lit chandeliers installed in 1826. When President Chester Arthur redecorated the White House in 1882, Louis Comfort Tiffany did almost nothing to the East Room. The only change was to install silver colored wallpaper on the ceiling.

 

The East Room was massively renovated again in 1902. The famous architectural firm of McKim, Mead, & White restored it to its early 1800s style. At this time, a parquet oak floor in a Fontainebleau pattern and bronze electric light standards were added. The gas chandeliers were removed, and Bohemian cut-glass chandeliers emplaced. The wallpaper was removed, and the room repaneled. The pilasters were retained, but replaced with ones in a more historically correct Neoclassical style. relief insets. The walls and pilasters were painted white. Plaster decorations depicting cupids, mothers with children, maidens with cupids, and anthemion (flowers and twisted vines) added as friezes and bas-relief panels to the ceiling, moldings, and over doors.

 

The Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum opened in 1990, and was taken over by the National Archives in 2007. In 2004, the $15 million Katherine B. Loker Center (which forms the southern wing of the complex) opened. This 47,300-square foot addition almost doubled the size of the library. The Loker Center was designed by architect J. Patrick Allen of the firm Langdon Wilson. The Loker Center includes a 184-foot long glass-walled corridor which provides views of the Tricia Nixon Rose Garden and a reflecting pool. Three large glass display cases occupy the south wall of this corridor. The Loker Center also contains two 934-square foot meeting rooms and a 932 square foot catering kitchen on the east end, and a 5,600-square foot exhibit hall on the west end. Below the center is 7,243 square feet of office space, and 9,117 square feet of archival storage areas. Attached to the Loker Center on the west is the 3,985 square foot Annenberg Court, which now serves as the ceremonial entrance to the library and museum. Built at the same time as the Loker Center, the Annenberg Court (named for Walter Annenberg, Nixon's ambassador to Great Britain) contains a massive skylight and a huge Seal of the President of the United States in the floor. The Annenberg Court connects the Loker Center to the existing museum entrance hall, museum store, and cafeteria. This space was also enlarged during the construction, so that now it is 1,350 square feet in size. Below the Annenberg Court and museum entrance hall, a 4,460 square foot research library was built.

 

The Loker Center includes an exact replica of the White House's East Room. Kevin Cartwright, the museum's director of institutional programming, is credited with coming up with the idea for replicating the East Room to serve as an events venue. Matt Construction of Sante Fe Springs, California, oversaw the design and construction of the replica East Room.

 

The replica East Room room includes exacting reproductions of the four Rosso Collemandina marble fireplaces (made with the same rose-colored Italian marble as the originals), three 70-light Bohemian cut-glass chandeliers (manufctured by Preciosa International in the Czech Republic), and print replicas of the portraits of William McKinley, George Washington, Martha Washington, and Theodore Roosevelt which still hang in the White House. The plaster moldings and friezes are duplicates of those found in the original East Room.

 

The East Room replica differs in two ways from the original. First, two projection screens can drop from the ceiling to allow for audio-visual presentations. Second, the wall between the two westernmost fireplaces can be removed -- allow the East Room replica to connect with meeting room next to it.

 

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Taken on August 9, 2012
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