Frank adding the finishing touches on a Christmas table candelabra arrangement in The State Dining Room. Carter Administration
The State Dining Room is the larger of two dining rooms on the State Floor of the White House. It is used for receptions, luncheons, and larger formal dinners called state dinners for visiting heads of state on state visits. The room seats 140 guests. The room measures approximately 48 feet by 36 feet. It has six doors leading to a butler's pantry, the Family Dining Room, Cross Hall, Red Room and the West Terrace. During the Andrew Jackson administration the room came to be formally called the "State Dining Room. I enjoyed decorating this room very much so. I remember in the early days of decorating the White House that I would hope my assignment in that room would be a long one, because there was no other place I would have want to be in. The beautiful chandeliers, the candelabras, just a very elegant place to dine at. George Healy's 1869 portrait of Abraham Lincoln has occupied a place of honor over the fireplace for many years.
State Dining Room at The White House
Frank inspecting the candelabra display with the center filled with ivy greenery and other fresh cut holiday foliages. He was viewing his workmanship at eye level sitting down at the State Dining Room table. Carter Administration
Frank decorating the mantle in the State Dining Room at The White House during the Carter Administration. Photograph was damaged by water marks while in storage.
Frank Lazzaro creating an Apple Topiary Centerpiece in the White House Flower Room.
This photograph to the left was taken during the 1980 Christmas decorating season in The White House Flower Room, I was creating something very special for a Christmas reception that evening in The State Dining Room. Instructed and under the supervision of The Chief White House Florist, he gave me the pleasure of designing Topiary Fruit Trees to place on the buffet tables along near the walls in The State Dining Room. I do not remember the exact count, I believe it was about ten trees I designed, but I kept creating these very elegant fruit trees all day and into the evening hours. When I completed four of them at a time, I would transport these creations on to the tables in the Room..... HOW TO MAKE A 20" CHRISTMAS APPLE FRUIT TREE CENTERPIECE - The Chief White House Florist created a sample Fruit Tree for me to follow, and I duplicated the design procedure over and over again. The Supplies you will need in creating this very elegant table centerpiece tree are the following: a gold ceramic compote about 10" in diameter, a 12" high green cone shape form that holds water, ( Most national-chain arts and crafts stores will sell these items at a reasonable price ) an assortment of fresh bright color fruits from your favorite quality food market, fruits such as one medium size pineapple, about twelve large dark red apples and twenty small green apples, 6" florist green wooden sticks and you will also need a nice size bouquet of dark boxwood greenery. DESIGN DIRECTIONS: Soak the green cone form into a bucket of warm water for about 20 minutes until it absorbs plenty of water. Make sure there are no air bubbles coming out of the form. Place the heavy water filled form cone in the middle of your work table on a plate to hold all the extra water coming out of the cone with plenty of space around you so you can view this entire cone on every angle of the design. It is much easier to work with while you turn the tree around when designing it on the plate. Insert one six inch wooden stick into the bottom of the pineapple. Tab it with a small hammer. With a florist knife or table knife, make a point on the other end of the stick and insert it on the very top of the green cone. That is your center focal point in the design. ( The height of the completed centerpiece would be around 20 inches tall. 12" for the cone and approximately 7" for the top pineapple ). The second step to this lovely centerpiece is very important. Insert the green wooden florist sticks into all the apples. Tap it with a small tap hammer halfway into the fruit. Make a point on the other end with a florist knife and insert them one by one into the green cone. The point on the stick holds it stronger in place in the form than a flat end stick. Balance the apples around the tree cone using one large red and small green alternating them about a couple of inches apart from each other. Add more apples if necessary, the goal is to have a nice balance tree with the apples of small green and large red ones around the complete project. Make the red apples the primary color on your tree. Place the boxwood greenery ( this you can buy very cheaply at Home Depot as a small bush tree ) and with a wire cutter or foliage cutter, cut the boxwood on a slant-cut leaving about 3" in stem from the foliage and insert the twigs into the remaining empty spaces around the apples. Cover only about one half of the bottom fruits with the boxwood foliage. Make sure that the boxwood is evenly inserted in the tree and nothing is sticking out like a sore thumb. Fill the spaces tightly and spread the boxwood out to get the full even effect all around the tree of this beautiful dark green foliage. Spray the complete centerpiece everyday if possible, with a bottle mist of fresh clear cold water to give it a nice raindrop effect look and to keep the fruit and foliage fresh throughout the holiday season. . Water this centerpiece every other day, to keep it from drying up in your home, just place it in the sink and pore cold tap water over the entire piece. Place this lovely tree into antique gold compote, and you have yourself a masterpiece creation from the Reagan Administration Christmas dating back to an era long gone. Another photo will be on display soon showing the centerpiece on the buffet table. It is taken with a small over the counter flash camera, it was almost evening and all of the lights in the State Dining Room were not turned on. This was the only photo that was taken of my Apple Fruit Trees on display in that moment of time. The bottom photo is of me placing my Apple Fruit Trees onto the banquet tables in The State Dining Room of the White House during the Christmas Season of 1980, taken by one of my florist peers. It was the Reagan's first Christmas in The White House. I designed all of them, one by one, all day and night, until the complete project was done. I was a great success with the Christmas centerpieces at that reception, and so very proud of myself for doing such a challenging job. The First Lady enjoyed viewing them at inspection time before the dinner party. She was very pleased and I was on top of the world that day. The newspapers and national magazines had a field day with my centerpieces and the other White House reception decorations.
Frank Lazzaro placing his famous Apple Topiary Tree Centerpiece on a buffet table after completion in the State Dining Room at The White House, Reagan Administration.
Frank decorating a mantle in the State Dining Room under the Portrait of President Lincoln. Ford Administration
the painting of President Lincoln over the mantle in the State Dining Room, painted in 1869 by George P.A. Healy. This was my favorite portrait painting in the White House. For twelve years, the first thing I would do while decorating on the main floor is to visit this great painting of my favorite president.
"I cannot recall a more beautiful house, then where I am at this moment in time. I shall cherish these days until my death." Frank's statement to a newspaper reporter from The Long Island Newsday. Christmas Season of 1975. Ford Administration.
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