Frank Lazzaro in the Blue Room (click image for enlargement)
The photograph (left) was taken of me in The Blue Room placing the finishing touches on The White House Christmas Tree during the mid 1980's. The Christmas Tree on display in The Blue Room stands 25 feet in height. I loved being part of this assignment everytime I went to The White House. The First Lady would select a special person of some interesting background or large interior decorating business to be in full charge of the operation of this tree. We will be his assistants and he would explain in full detail at a prior meeting what he wanted for the theme for that Christmas Tree. The First Lady along with her personal White House staff would decide the decorating theme to use for each Christmas. It was so exciting to see the beautiful antiques we used to work with from all the administrations in the past dating back to John Adams. It felt like I was going back in time when the country had just reformed from the colonies. The Blue Room formed the most elegant architectural feature of James Hoban's plans for The White House. It has always been used as a reception room except for a brief period during the administration of John Adams when it served as the south entrance hall. All the furnishings were destroyed in the fire of 1814. When President Monroe redecorated The Blue Room after the fire, he used the French Empire style, which is the present decor. The color blue was introduced during the administration of Martin Van Buren in 1837; he redecorated the oval salon and began the tradition of the "Blue Room". The photo (left) is from the Reagan Administration.
The Blue Room is one of three state parlors on the first floor in the White House. It is distinct for its oval shape. The room is used for receptions, receiving lines, and is occasionally set for small dinners. It is traditionally decorated in shades of blue. With the Yellow Room above it and the Diplomatic Room below it, the Blue Room is one of three oval rooms in James Hoban's original design for the White House. (view the video at the bottom of this webpage on The Blue Room interior)
The room is approximately 30 feet by 40 feet. It has six doors, which open into the Cross Hall, Green Room, Red Room, and South Portico. The three windows look out upon the South Lawn. It is a beautiful view of Washington from the window, I always enjoy looking out there and viewing the lovely landscaping of the White House lawn. One time it was snowing and the lawn was truly a winter wonderland of beauty. When the Queen of England came to the White House for America's Bi-centennial celebration on July 7th, 1976, I was there on that grand historic day, viewing all the "pomp and circumtances" inside from a Blue Room window. There was a full honor guard and military reception on the South Lawn given to The Queen and Prince Phillip during Her Majesty's State Visit to the White House at 11:45 am. I remember as if it was yesterday when the Presidential Helicopter landed on the South Lawn with the Royal Family. I was there on that beautiful historic afternoon to decorate the Queen's Tent Reception State Dinner in the Rose Garden for that evening given by The President and Mrs. Ford. I witnessed the complete "red carpet" White House welcome to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip with The President and Mrs Ford greeting the royal couple as they descended from the aircraft. This historic event will always be in my memory as the greatest event I have ever seen at the White House.
The Blue Room Interior all year round.
Frank, with an assistant, standing on a high scaffold 30 feet in the air decorating the top of the White House Christmas Tree in the Blue Room. Carter Administration
Frank in the Blue Room of the White House after the Christmas decorating of the Tree. Ford Administration
Frank's first Christmas tree decorating task in The Blue Room at The White House Ford Administration
Frank with the very elegant "Frankie" Shelton, national known floral designer and award winning florist working together on the White House Christmas Tree - Carter Administration - note: the colorful party hats hanging from the branches were filled with peanuts.
Handmade crafts set the theme for First Lady Betty Ford's 1974 Blue Room tree. Emphasizing thrift and recycling, Mrs. Ford used ornaments made by Appalachian women and senior citizen groups. Swags lined with patchwork encircled the tree. She kept this quaint feel in 1975 for her "old-fashioned children's Christmas" theme. Experts from Colonial Williamsburg adapted paper snowflakes, acorns, dried fruits, pinecones, vegetables, straw, cookies and yarn into ornaments. In 1976, Mrs. Ford expressed the "love that is the spirit of Christmas" by trimming a Blue Room tree in a variety of entirely natural ornaments made by members of the Garden Club of America.
the Blue Room
Frank Lazzaro with Chief White House Florist Dotty Temple (Left) and Floral Designer and Instructor "Frankie" Shelton in the Blue Room at The White House. Christmas in the Reagan Administration.
The Blue Room Christmas Tree in the Reagan Administration, decorated with the assistance of Frank Lazzaro and the White House staff. Gold foil snowflakes were the main focal point decoration
Frank Lazzaro decorating the White House Christmas Tree in the Blue Room with gold foil snowflakes. Reagan Administration.
Frank filling in between the branches with small antique toy decorations on the Christmas Tree - The Blue Room - Carter Administration
Frank on the high scaffold starting the procedure of decorating the Blue Room Christmas Tree - Carter Administration
Frank Lazzaro decorating the beautiful large mantle in the State Dining Room with Christmas winter foliages and assorted dried blooms of the season. Reagan Administration.
Frank Lazzaro decorating the elegant mantle in the Blue Room for the Christmas Season with assorted fresh cut winter foliages. The Carter Administration.
The Blue Room all year round.
Frank decorating the Blue Room Christmas Tree with hand made country decorations and colorful party hats hanging upside down and filled with peanuts. The Carter Administration. The Blue Room
Frank decorating a tree outside the Blue Room Entrance in The White House. This tree is standing in the Cross Hall.
Frank trimming the tree in the White House Blue Room - Reagan Administration
Frank sitting on the high scaffold in the Blue Room at The White House during the Reagan Administration Christmas season.
Louis Moinet – 197 years at The White House - The Minerva Clock
In 1814, the British burned the White House in retaliation for an American attack on the city of York in Ontario, Canada. It was rebuilt three years later by the architect James Hoban and, in 1817, President James Monroe refurbished the iconic building. One of the principal reception rooms at the White House is the Blue Room, which is one of only three oval rooms, the other two being the President’s famous Oval Office and the Red Room.
President Monroe decided to refurbish the Blue Room in French Empire style and so sent agents to France on what must have been one of the greatest shopping trips of the 19th century. They were looking for the very best, so it should come as no surprise that when selecting a suitable clock to sit in pride of place on the mantle above the fireplace, they chose a stunning gilded table clock by Louis Moinet, who had already made a clock for one of Monroe’s predecessors and fellow Founding Father, Thomas Jefferson, which accompanied the latter during his two White House terms of office.
The Louis Moinet clock purchased by Monroe strikes the hours and quarter hours and features Minerva – the Roman goddess of poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce and crafts – reclining on a shield. The clock bears the names of both Louis Moinet and Pierre-Philippe Thomire, the acclaimed bronzier who collaborated with Moinet on many of his clocks. Thomire’s beautiful bas-relief engravings depicting military scenes decorate the sides of the case.
Today, only a handful of objects remain in the White House from this period, but among them is the Louis Moinet Minerva clock which became one of the favourite White House timepieces of 11th U.S. president, James K. Polk. And we are pleased to report that nearly 200 years after President Monroe bought the Louis Moinet Minerva clock, it is still sitting proudly in the Blue Room as he originally intended.
The Minerva Mantle Clock purchased by James Monroe after the burning of The White House on August 24th 1814.
Frank Lazzaro decorating around The Minerva Clock purchased by James Monroe after the burning of The White House during the War of 1812. Christmas decorating during the Ford Administration with Frank Lazzaro
After this article appeared on the front page of the Long Island section of The New York Times, my florist business just skyrocketed to the roof with new customers. Within three years, I built a three store florist chain thanks to the media exposure.
White House Christmas Tree decorated by Frank Lazzaro and other professional designers from around the country. We all worked together as a great team making this project a big success and a beautiful presentation to the nation.
First Lady Nancy Reagan decorating the White House Christmas Tree in The Blue Room. Frank assisted in this project and also decorated this elegant tree in 1981. Reagan Administration
This is an Official White House photograph of The President and Mrs. Reagan taken in front of The Blue Room Christmas Tree that Frank assisted in the decorating. The First Family gave him this photograph upon completion of the Christmas Tree decorating. Reagan Administration.
The 1977 Carter tree featured trimming made by disabled men and women of the National Association of Retarded Citizens. The ornaments were made from nut pods, eggshells, foil, and painted milkweed pots. The President and Mrs. Carter with daughter Amy in front of The White House Christmas Tree in The Blue Room decorated with the assistance of Frank Lazzaro and a professional team of decorators. The White House presented a copy of this photograph to Frank as a gift after the decorating was completed. Carter Administration
Handmade crafts set the theme for First Lady Betty Ford’s 1974 Blue Room tree. Emphasizing thrift and recycling, Mrs. Ford used ornaments made by Appalachian women and senior citizen groups. Swags lined with patchwork encircled the tree. She kept this quaint feel in 1975 for her ‘old-fashioned children’s Christmas’ theme. Experts from Colonial Williamsburg adapted paper snowflakes, acorns, dried fruits, pinecones, vegetables, straw, cookies and yarn into ornaments. In 1976, Mrs. Ford expressed the ‘love that is the spirit of Christmas’ by trimming a Blue Room tree in a variety of entirely natural ornaments made by members of the Garden Club of America. The President and Mrs. Ford standing in front of The White House Christmas Tree in The Blue Room decorated with the assistance of Frank Lazzaro and a team of professional decorators. The White House gave Frank a copy of this photograph as a gift after the decorating was completed. Ford Administration.
A Blue Room Video Tour
Frank Lazzaro is a famed Lecturer on Long Island and is a former White House Christmas and State Dinner Floral Decorator during the Ford, Carter and Reagan Adminstrations. His award winning e-book is viewed by millions of people around the world. He lives a minimalism lifestyle with a non-profit ebook, enjoying the simple pleasures of sharing his famous past years at The White House as a floral decorator with the world, "free of charge".