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Action News gets unique look at White House

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The White House is one of the most iconic American buildings.

During Action News anchor Warren Armstrong's recent trip to Washington, DC to interview the president, Action News received a special tour of part of the White House from the man who's been giving the presidential residence tender loving care for nearly four decades.

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is the best-known address in the country.

Not only is the White House the official residence and principal workplace of the president, but the six-story Georgian-style building is also home to a remarkable collection of American artwork and craftsmanship.

"The most important art object in the White House is the great standing portrait of George Washington - it's behind me - that was painted by Gilbert Stuart in 1797 and it was brought to the House when it opened in 1800," Bill Allman said.

Bill Allman has been the White House Museum curator for 36 years.

He's like a walking Internet search engine when it comes to the history of the presidential residence and its furnishings.

He explained how former First Lady Dolly Madison saved the portrait of President Washington when the British set fire to the White House in 1814.

"She said that Gen Washington wasn't captured in the American Revolution and he wasn't about to be captured now," Allman said.

Allman guided us from the East Room, the largest room in the White House, to the State Dining Room, which features a famous portrait of Abraham Lincoln.

He also showed us the three color coded parlors between those two larger rooms: the Green Room featuring furniture created by the great American designer Duncan Fyfe, and the Red Room, where many First Ladies often entertained other female guests after dinner. In the middle is the oval-shaped Blue Room.

"This room is much more what it would have looked like in 1817 when President James Monroe had the job of buying new furniture for the rebuilt White House," Allman said.

Beautiful mahogany doors grace each of the color-coded rooms here in the White House as well as the hallways, but apparently when California's first family, the Reagans , moved here they didn't look so good.

"They had gotten so grimy over time that she thought they should be improved. So we took each one down and had them very carefully cleaned and uncovered all these fabulous inlays. The doors may go back to 1817," Allman said.

Portraits of Ronald Reagan and other recent presidents hang in the hallway outside of the parlors, and just around the corner in the White House entrance hall hangs the newest presidential portrait of George W. Bush.

The painting had just been placed on the wall the day Action News visited the White House.

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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washington d.c., local, warren armstrong
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