Guess who had a tour of The White House today? Our wonderful friends of the Gregg and Carol Laundry Services, as well as the Gregg and Carol Valet Services, not to mention Gregg and Carol Limousine Services, secured passes through their local Congressman for us to tour The White House.
Up early, before sparrows sing, we boarded the Metro from the outskirts of Washington DC for an 8.00am tour. Along the way we grabbed breakfast to sustain us. The tour was self-guided (heavily overseen by the Secret Service) which lasted 1.5 hours.
The White House is a grand building, but not entirely white! There is the Yellow Room, the Blue Room, the Red Room, the Green Room, the Ballroom, the State Room, the Library, the China Room, the movie theatre… We were allowed into the Ground Floor Corridor and the East Wing. These areas are for more formal state and diplomatic occasions, and perhaps quiet reflection. Marble and polished wood abounds, as do beautiful items of furniture and lighting from other eras. It is a beautiful showcase of American history.
We exited the building on the north side and when I asked a Secret Serviceman where the stairs behind him lead, he was reluctant to tell me it was the staircase to the private quarters.
But wait, there is more… Yesterday, we visited the Thomas Jefferson Library of Congress. Now, you would be forgiven for thinking (just as I did) this library is like any library, filled with books, with a slight musty odor and drab interior. Oh so wrong! This building is absolutely stunning! From the moment we saw the entry fountain and statues (think Trevi Fountain) and set foot on the mosaic marble floors, our jaws dropped.
Library of Congress is connected to The Capitol via an underground passageway. The three buildings that comprise the Library of Congress – the Jefferson Building houses the artifacts, the John Adams Building houses books and parchments and articles, and the James Madison Building houses the staff. In Maryland there are four more large repositories for articles.
So what is so amazing? The architecture and iconography is breathtaking. Many immigrants, especially from Italy, worked on the intricate marble statues and filigree for no pay, just for board and lodgings and the privilege of having their artwork on display. It was built after the Civil War when there was no money to create the Library. To fund it, all copyright in the USA was to be given by the Library: photos, books, newspapers, inventions, naming rights, intellectual property, maps, etc. It quickly paid for itself.
There are nine reading rooms, but we were shown the largest. It is absolutely breathtaking.
We were also shown Thomas Jefferson’s book collection which he sold to the Library. The collection is on permanent display. There are also other exhibitions throughout. Every nook and cranny contains a delight. This building was not on my radar, but would recommend it to all.
And so these last two full days brings to an end our incredibly enjoyable adventures in Washington DC.
Onward to the next adventure.
Such is Life!