In 1797, two weeks after being sworn in as the second president, John Adams wrote to Abigail about his new presidential lodgings:“There is not a chair to sit in. The beds and bedding are in a woeful pickle. This house has been a scene of the most scandalous drinking and disorder ...”The presidential digs were a disaster because George Washington had put the servants in charge of the transition. In the 1700s, that meant one thing: PAR-TY! Actually, it meant a series of parties, and the servants out-of-control behavior led to broken furniture, missing china and silverware, and suspicious-looking stains everywhere.
Dealing with suspicious-looking stains is how a president should take office. It puts him (or her!) in a righteously peevish mood, and that's what you need to take on the world. But today, it's all about mollycoddling the Commander-in-Chief. When the Obamas take residence of the White House, their clothes will already be hanging in closets or folded in dressers, and the family pictures will be on display.
Looking to the future, a competition called the White House Redux asked this question: What if the ultimate architectural symbol of political power (the White House, that is), were to be designed today? My favorite proposal is this Buckminster Fuller-esque one that puts a glass dome over the White House.
Another proposal called for a number of mini-White Houses to be spread throughout Washington D.C. The First Family would rotate through a variety of neighborhoods this way, and different communities would share the “symbolic mantle” of the office.
One team put a theme park by the White House in order to "recover it as a public space." Uh-huh. I guess seeing the President in a bumper car would be a more common sight then! (Insert smiley-face emoticon here.)