11 May 2015

thanks, HST

When Harry Truman was elected to a full term as U.S. President in 1948, he and Mrs Truman lived at Blair House while the White House interior was being reconstructed. This was necessary because of deterioration but some argued that the house should be demolished and replaced by a new house, perhaps on a bigger lot. (The photo is from a New York Times article on the reconstruction.)

The new Alfred University president's house, here in Alfred, New York, is a 1960s version of McMansion: too big for its britches on too big a lot, not near campus as the former president's house had been. I think it's good for the president to be in the middle of things rather than up in the would-be suburbs. When Ronald Reagan became governor of California in 1967, he and his family lived in the 1877 Second Empire-Italianate Old Governor's Mansion, now a state historic park, for a few months before moving to a Tudor Revival in East Sacramento while a new 8000-square foot mansion was being built in Carmichael.

It's probably more his thriftiness than a devotion to historic preservation but I'm glad that President Truman rebuilt the White House rather than replacing it with a 1950 version of official residence.

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