01 February 2010

Rough Rider Redux

 The man was an Individualist. a Colonel, New York City Police Commissioner, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Governor of New York, Vice President to William McKinley, President of the United States from 1901- 1909, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, & Decorator.

Yes, Rough and Ready found a shabby, not chic, White House full of Victoriana when he succeeded the assassinated McKinley . Treading lightly, remember his motto

"Walk softly & Carry a Big Stick."

 the aesthete? the Rough Rider roughing it in Cuba

Teddy, Mr President to his personal pick for the White House redecoration- McKim, Meade and White, with principal architect Charles McKim personally in charge. McKim  took off and literally stripped the House of floors & walls. Roosevelt's instruction- Return the White House to its Federal Roots. McKim must have nodded and then preceded to imbue the residence with his own brand of sophisticated, elegantly appointed classical interiors. Within a year the noted New York firm had detoured along the Federal- by way of the Georgian.

TR at his WH desk

An extensive remodel to say the least!
What is most fascinating-The Results. A stunning period in the White House-overlooked  in favour of the sweep Jacqueline Kennedy made when she was an occupant in the 1960's. Likely much of her design changes worked over the rooms that Teddy did up.

Let's take a look.
 the ENTRANCE HALL before the Rough Rider Redux







 the WEST WING SITTING HALL before Teddy

after Teddy took down the stairway

When you are asked if you can do a job,
tell 'em, 
'Certainly I can!' 
Then get busy and find out how to do it.- TRoosevelt
INDEED Teddy! My design philosophy when I started job hunting 25+years ago.

go see all the plans and pictures HERE ,all the tinted photographs are from the same site.
photographs of the Rough Rider HERE 


  1. We always think of MM&W's work as 'traditional' but the Blue Room's unpatterned walls & bare floor seem strikingly modern, even today. Too, I think their version of the Green Room, with its white-painted Directoire furniture, floral chintz upholstery & general Elsie de Wolfe air, is my favorite, out of all the room's various decors over the years.

    TR hated the dark feel of the Entrance Hall & gave orders to "break into small pieces that Tiffany screen" but it was, instead, sold discreetly, and later ended up installed in a Maryland hotel. Unfortunately, for the screen, the ruse was not a true reprieve, merely a delay of execution, and in the 1920s, it burned along with the hotel that contained it.

    To me, though, TR's natural decorating style is best seen at Sagamore Hill, where high-Victorian decor collides head-on with the Wild West & the African safari.

  2. Gaye, such an original post. You're so right. The JBK restoration gets all the attention (guilty as charged here) but most of us think little about the TR period, except perhaps to note the "animal heads."

  3. Fascinating. I love learning design, history and lore here!

  4. Lovely! He really was an amazing man. I have had my head stuck in early issues of Scibner's Magazine the past few years [on an NEH project to digitize them]. Teddy was everywhere! His stories were some of the most popular in Scribner's long history.

  5. wow GT this post is really, really great. the before and after images, and the color hand-tinting truly helps us to see what was.

    (i love a man with a big stick who is keen on decorating.)

  6. This was one heck of an interesting post. I learned a lot.


  7. The sitting hall indeed became a furniture standoff! But he is one of my favorite characters and I adore any romp through his life and times. A very, very rare bird...

  8. So glad you stopped by today...because, now I am here! Truly eclectic indeed! My husband would love this post as well, I fully intend to show it to him this evening. We were married at The Harvard Club in NYC, where many of Teddy's conquests now reside and adorn the place, and if I am not mistaken his portrait hangs there as well. Thanks again!

  9. Magnaverde- Love that quote-TR had a million or so quote worthy. The thing that is so lovely is the tinting on these images. The WH site is really very interesting and in depth. Sagamore Hill-yes, Lauren of Indecourous Taste did a post on his skins. He was a man made in the mold or the finer things the States had to offer.

  10. Courtney, Patricia, thanks the WH site as said is wide open to many interesting post topics! Great images and info. TR was a true blue American- as said again-all the best of the American attributes of the era. Perhaps revisiting them would benefit the entirety of DC.

  11. Tara- so true-Would love to have a compilation of those writings. Wouldn't that be great. I can just imagine the information in Scribner's that needs to be aired.

    Soodie-amen and I love the colour saturation in these images too.

    Roger-ah Ha! great to have caught your "eye" with Teddy- a fascinating character, I continue to enjoy Your blog! pgt

  12. Catherine- yes wasn't he. Left his mark- even on a mountain, I love his spirit, machismo with heart-witness the Teddy Bear.

  13. Z. I was introduced to your blog from Patricia's post-I am looking forward to catching up on Zhush!

  14. Gosh, it is hard to imagine the state dining room looking like that! But, sort of fabulous...!

  15. Janet-I think you are right, he had personality plus in spades and didn't mind showing it.

  16. This was such a great post. I loved the history and seeing all the historic photos. Who knew Teddy was such a well rounded hunk of a man?!

    Thank you ~ deb

  17. I love the before and after photos. What a contrast between the homely "Victorian" clutter and the oh-so-elegant "Georgian" restyling (please excuse my English style labelling!) I'm not entirely sure which I prefer.
    Your wonderful post sent me to the chapter "Palace 1889-1921" in Ulysses Grant Dietz and Sam Watters' book 'Dream House. The White House as an American Home' (Acanthus). The chapter emphasises the fashion at the time in America for emulating the palaces and chateaus of Europe in both house and garden design. It also looks at Eleanor Roosevelt's influence, as First Lady, in the redecoration.



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