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Life in the White House, an exclusive presentation by

Photo Essay
White House Life: Now and Then

President Ronald Reagan hosts former Presidents Ford, Nixon and Carter as they share a laugh in the Blue Room October 8, 1981. Since the opening of the White House in 1800, presidents and first ladies have used the Blue Room to formally receive and greet guests.

Life in the Blue Room
Art and Furnishings

The Blue Room's oval shape was inspired by George Washington, who hosted formal receptions in a bow-ended room in his home in Philadelphia when he was President.
The Blue Room received its name in 1837 during the Van Buren administration.





The Center of the House
Life in the Blue Room

360 Blue Room Tour
When school groups tour the White House, a fragrant scent greets them as they enter the Blue Room. An eye-catching arrangement of fresh flowers rests on a marble-top table, which was purchased by James Monroe in 1817. Flowers have long added a special touch to this beautiful oval room regardless of the occasion.

Tulips, orchids and white narcissus filled the Blue Room like a fragrant perfume on a very special day in 1886. The White House gardener spent hours on June 2, 1886 decorating the tables with hundreds of potted plants and swags of greenery. Flowers covered the chandelier, and fresh blooms of roses, ferns, lilies and pansies were everywhere.

At 7 p.m. that evening, the clocks in the White House chimed and church bells rang throughout the city. From the east corner of the Cross Hall, John Philip Sousa signaled the Marine Band to begin playing the Wedding March. Soon President Cleveland and Frances Folsom emerged from the staircase, crossed the hall and walked into the candle-lit Blue Room. The bride, who was 27 years younger than the President, wore a satin gown, an India silk drape trimmed with real orange blossoms and a 15-foot train.

Within a few minutes, President Cleveland became the first and only President to exchange wedding vows at the White House. After the ceremony, the couple led their guests from the Blue Room, through the Green Room and into the East Room for a receiving line. They hosted a dinner in the State Dining Room and returned to the Blue Room for a send off to their honeymoon.

The Blue Room is the center of the State Floor of the White House. Over the years, the Blue Room's oval shape and breath-taking view of the South Lawn of the White House has captivated many visitors. The Blue Room has been the traditional place for presidents to formally receive guests. From entertaining kings to shaking hands with the masses, the business of democracy and the social graces of diplomacy have taken place in the Blue Room.

President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair discussed the war on terrorism in this room before the President gave his historic address to Congress and the nation on September 20, 2001. The Blue Room was visible in the background when President Bush proposed the Department of Homeland Security in a televised address to the nation on June 6, 2002.

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