Decor Trends Holiday


white house bowling alley 1948

It’s Presidents Day! Celebrated on the third Monday of February, Presidents Day is a day that was originally chosen to honor our first President, George Washington. Though he didn’t actually live there, in honor of this historic holiday, we’re going to talk about the big white house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Everybody has seen pictures of the Oval Office, West Wing and Press Briefing Room here and there on television. We thought it would be fun to round up some photos of three of the not-so-seen rooms in the world’s most famous house.

THE WHITE HOUSE BOWLING ALLEY. The original two-lane bowling alley was built on the ground floor of the West Wing as a birthday present for President Harry Truman in 1947. It was relocated to the Old Executive Office Building in 1955.

In 1969, our 37th President and First Lady, Richard and Thelma “Pat” Nixon, had a new, one-lane alley built. The previous bowling alley was later transformed into what is now known as The Situation Room. We’re kind of loving the 1970’s graphic wall paper…

Here is a more recent photo of the Presidential Bowling Alley…

Is it just us or did the bowling alley look a lot better back in the day? Apparently President Obama has plans to take out the bowling alley and replace it with a basketball court. We think he should keep it — and bring back the 1970’s wallpaper. Just saying.

THE FAMILY THEATER. It goes without saying that the President of the United States can’t just take a Taxi and check out the latest blockbuster hit, but one of the perks of the job is having his very own movie theater in the East Wing of the White House which accommodates up to 40 people. During the Roosevelt Administration, the Family Theater was built out of what was once a long coat room.

Though he had an extensive film career in his early years, it was said that President Reagan rarely watched films in the Family Theater. He and Mrs. Reagan did most of their movie-watching on their weekends at Camp David. When they did enjoy the Family Theater, President Reagan liked watching Jimmy Stewart movies and even watched a few of his own films with his family on his birthday.

Over the next few administrations, the theater went through many renovations. Here is what the theater looked like during Bill Clinton’s Presidency…

In 2004, the theater underwent another major renovation with the addition of red velvet drapes paired with red upholstered seating and hasn’t changed much since.

THE BEAUTY SALON. Directly connected to the private dining room is the White House Beauty Salon. During the Lincoln Administration, this tiny room served as a bathing area for the President. Up until its renovation in 1902, this served as one of only two bathrooms in the private Presidential living quarters (the other being in the President’s bedroom). During the next few administrations, the room was redesigned for various uses such as the office to First Ladies Eleanor Roosevelt and Bess Truman and then as a painting room for Dwight Eisenhower. It was during the Nixon Administration that the room was transformed into a makeup/hairdressing/barber room. Here is what the space looked like in the 1970’s:

During the first Bush Administration, the First Pet, Millie, was known to hang out here. It was even the place where she gave birth to her six puppies in 1989.

Here is the most recent photo of the White House Beauty Salon — as it was in 1992. In the bottom right, you can see Millie’s bed and water bowl:

We’re not sure where the current First Pet, Bo Obama, hangs his leash and keeps his water bowl, but we do know he’s quite a hit with the press…

Let’s imagine for a bit… If you were moving into the White House, what would you decide to renovate first? The master bedroom? The family dining room? How about the Oval Office? Our vote: the bowling alley! We’d bring back the graphic wall paper. πŸ˜‰

White House exterior photo found here. Interior photos found here, here, here, and here, and here. For more photos, stories, and interesting facts about the White House, be sure to check out

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  • Reply
    February 21, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    Very cool! I love seeing behind the scenes photos! I wonder what the salon is now.

  • Reply
    February 21, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    This post is so cool! I can’t imagine having a beauty salon in the comfort of your own home. Or a bowling alley and movie theater in that case. That would be awesome!

  • Reply
    February 21, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    If I were to renovate… I would start with the beauty salon (though we don’t know what it looks like today). I would appoint Ken Paves as my personal hair dresser and appoint Bobbi Brown as my personal make up artist. Heaven!

  • Reply
    linda b
    February 21, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    I agree about the bowling alley wall paper! It looked so much better in the 70’s than it does now. Yuck!

  • Reply
    February 21, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Great post! Bo is SOOO adorable!

  • Reply
    April Moss
    February 21, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    What a clever idea! Out of the three rooms you featured, I would definitely start with the bowling alley. It would be an “easy” fix too. I don’t know why they haven’t done it yet. It will be interesting to see what Obama does/has done with it.

  • Reply
    Kelly M
    February 21, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    I’m sure I’d want to redo the master bedroom. That would be “my” space to get away from the world so I would want it to reflect ” my” style.

  • Reply
    Taylor Camp
    February 21, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Just like most who move into a new home, I’d probably want to redesign the kitchens and baths. There would be no need to be concerned about re-sale value either!

  • Reply
    February 21, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    I’d want to do my kids rooms:)

  • Reply
    Neeve P
    February 21, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    I would have to add a craft room! Then I would start some DIY projects with some thrift store finds to leave behind as a legacy:)

  • Reply
    February 21, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    love that you called Pat Nixon by her given name Thelma. Most people don’t even know that was her name!

  • Reply
    February 22, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Great post! The only thing that I disagree slightly with (though it’s a matter of opinion), is that this is the world’s most famous house–I think there are other even more famous houses, such as the Taj Mahal, for instance. It’s definitely the USA’s most famous house. But it’s a great post.

  • Reply
    Lauren @ Hungry Child in the City
    February 22, 2011 at 10:49 am

    This is so cool, thanks! Love seeing how the specialty rooms have changed through the ages.

  • Reply
    February 22, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    I like the 70’s bowling alley and President Clinton’s movie theater drapes.

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