Facebook Twitter

1ST LADY BRINGS NOSTALGIA TO WHITE HOUSE BICENTENNIAL

SHARE 1ST LADY BRINGS NOSTALGIA TO WHITE HOUSE BICENTENNIAL

Uncertain if she and her husband will be at the White House for four more years or just three more months, a nostalgic Barbara Bush helped commemorate their home's 200th anniversary this week.

"My George and I have loved spending the last four years here, and I know that he's looking forward to the next four just as much as I am," Mrs. Bush told an East Room ceremony.Bush marked the day by burying a time-capsule in the South Lawn.

Among the items it contained was his personal schedule for the day, "Millie's Book," a White House staff roster, plus copies of USA Today and The Washington Post, which had more headlines about Bush's uphill campaign for a second term.

White House aides planned to log precisely where the capsule was placed for future generations - unlike 1792 when the building's cornerstone was laid in a location that has become an unsolved mystery.

"Wherever it is, the White House cornerstone is 200 years old today," Mrs. Bush said.

She addressed an East Room ceremony lined with paintings and student participants in the White House 200th Anniversary Art Exhibition.

The event was sponsored by the White House Historical Society and Very Special Arts, an international organization dedicated to enriching the lives of the disabled with art.

The president noted in a proclamation, "The home of our nation's presidents is a house that truly belongs to the American people."

One of the top tourist attractions in the nation's capital, the White House has been home to every president except the first one.

Mrs. Bush has said that when it comes time to leave the White House, she looks forward to returning to private life and her own garden. Standing in the East Room, she smiled and offered a glimpse into history.

"On Oct. 13, 1792, a ceremony was held to lay, or to hide, the cornerstone," she said. "And since then, every first family, except for George Washington's, has lived in this magnificent house.

She said there "are all sorts of fascinating things about the White House" and that she has taken time to learn about it herself.

"It's full of funny stories, and most of them are true," she said.

"Did you know that Teddy Roosevelt had sumo wrestlers performing right here in this very room?" she said.

"But that's nothing, the Harlem Globetrotters played basketball in here, too," she said. "I hear they wrapped these chandeliers to protect them on that occasion."

Mrs. Bush reminded the group that President Franklin Roosevelt "traveled around this place in a wheelchair because of his bout with polio. And the Oval Office had a cork floor . . . so that his chair could roll more easily."

She said the cork floor lasted until President Dwight Eisenhower sunk his spiked golf shoes into it. The floor was since covered with a rug.

"But the Oval Office is still wheelchair accessible, like the rest of this most accessible of great homes," she said.