• Virginia Tolles

Architectural Periods

I've received a reminder of just how old I am -- old enough to have lived through several architectural periods: Post-War, Mid-Century Modern, and Colonial Revival, to begin.

It all came to light with my immediately preceding post, wherein I spoke of Jackie Kennedy's influence on houses built in the 1960s. I wouldn't have recognized the significance of those kitchen cabinets had I not lived through those years and been acutely aware of how everything related to style was influenced by Mrs. Kennedy.

She established the White House Historical Association in 1961 and worked with them to refurnish the White House in a style befitting the First Home. Previously, the Mansion had reflected the time and people who lived there. In the Victorian Era, for example, loud and ornate wall coverings and large potted palms filled the rooms of the Greek Revival mansion. Now, only the family rooms on the second floor are furnished in the style of the serving presidential family.

I read several biographies of Mrs. Kennedy's years in the White House and learned how she painstakingly helped to select everything from wallpaper and fabrics to the art that would hang on the walls. One of the few criticisms about her work was that it did reflect her French heritage. Objectors pointed out the fact that the United States originated with the English settlers, who sailed to Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607, even before others settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620. But no one could fault the fact that Mrs. Kennedy had given America a First Home (never a palace) that was worthy of entertaining kings and queens.

Mrs. Kennedy's efforts were revealed to the American public on television and in a book entitled "A Tour of the White House with Mrs. John F. Kennedy." (1,2) Although the rooms have been freshened in the years following, they still very much reflect Mrs. Kennedy's influence.

Jackie Kennedy and Philippa Calnan with a Cezanne Painting (Robert Knudsen. Public domain)


(1) "A Tour of the White House with Mrs. John F. Kennedy." Columbia Broadcasting System, February 1962.

(2) Wolff, Perry. "A Tour of the White House with Mrs. John F. Kennedy." Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1962.

Read more about the White House Historical Association.


Recent Posts

See All

Ah! Now, I Understand -- or Do I?

After following a vlogger on YouTube for about nine months, I learned something about vlogging that really put it all into very unpleasant perspective. It all came about when my responses to several o

Copyright 2011 - 2020, Virginia Tolles. All rights reserved.

Banner Photograph: DDZPhotos / Pixabay