C-SPAN White House Week

C-SPAN’s original production of "White House Week" - the most comprehensive look ever inside the official residence of the First Family and also our nation's symbolic home at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue – debuted in December 2008. Granted extensive access by First Lady Laura Bush, our crews spent time in both the public and private parts of the mansion over the course of several months - documenting the history, art, and workings of the White House. The following programs aired during our White House Week presentation.


“THE WHITE HOUSE: INSIDE AMERICA’S MOST FAMOUS HOME”
– an original C-SPAN documentary production

Travel through the spaces and history of the White House as we take you on a journey focusing on the home today and first families over time that have shaped it most. From its most famous spaces like the East Room, Oval Office and Lincoln Bedroom, to those places inside where only the first family can access, a rare look inside the White House.

We look at the influence of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt on the home, the role of George Washington in building the White House, as well as what the home was like when its first two inhabitants, John Adams and then Thomas Jefferson, lived here.

Learn about the Lincoln's time in the White House – as we take you into the Lincoln Bedroom to examine the challenges the 16th president faces as the Civil War rages outside the home, and family tragedies take place inside it.

Harry Truman tells us about adding the Truman Balcony, and we learn about his complete renovation of the White House from 1948-52, including a focus on the addition of the Grand Staircase which Presidents and their diplomatic guests descend guests during State Dinners.

We begin with President Lyndon Johnson’s impact on the White House as the Oval Office is featured. As Vietnam and Watergate attract protestors to the streets outside of the home, Richard Nixon finds solace inside in the Lincoln Sitting Room.

To purchase our feature documentary "The White House: Inside America's Most Famous Home" please visit our C-SPAN online videotape store.


The programs presented this night took viewers inside the White House through the eyes and ears of First Ladies. First, an exclusive tour of the 2nd floor residence and family spaces of the White House with Laura Bush, followed by “The President’s House” – a tour of the residence filmed with Lady Bird Johnson in 1968 – and never before aired on television in its entirety until now.


Program Segments:

Granting C-SPAN unprecedented access to the White House, First Lady Laura Bush talks with C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb from the Second Floor Private Residence of the mansion. In the first part of the interview, Mrs. Bush talks with us in the West Sitting Hall about life in the White House, her efforts to bring back part of its history, and the family rooms that surround this area.

In the second part of this program, Mrs. Bush takes the viewer on a walking tour through other parts of the second floor of the White House, including the family’s private study, the center hallway living area, and the Yellow Oval Room.

In 1968, Lady Bird Johnson and the White House Naval Photographic Unit worked together to produce “The President’s House,” a film taking the viewers through some of the private parts of the residence. Allowing cameras to film her, President Johnson, and members of the Johnson family, we see a portrait of a family trying to balance the competing needs of the presidency and home life at the White House. Also included are views of the Lincoln Bedroom, the Treaty Room, and other parts of the private residence. Produced toward the end of his time there, President Johnson also appears at the end of the film in the Oval Office to talk with viewers about his time as president. This film had never before been seen in its entirety on TV or online until C-SPAN’s airing of it. The film comes to C-SPAN courtesy of the Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas.

The ultimate look at how the White House works as we take you behind the scenes and into the spaces where a staff of just about 100 works to make the White House both a home and a stage. Take a tour of the Oval Office with White House Curator Bill Allman. See other areas of the White House at work including the Chocolate Shop, the White House kitchens, the Flower Shop, and the White House Theater. See interviews with current and former White House staff, including longtime Chief Usher Gary Walters and former White House Military Social Aide Alan Merten.


Program Segments:

White House Curator Bill Allman takes viewers on a tour through the most powerful office in the world: the Oval Office. In this video, Mr. Allman takes a complete 360 degree walk around the office, as he talks about the history, art, and artifacts in the room, including the Resolute Desk, perhaps the most famous piece of furniture in the White House. He also addresses how different presidents and first ladies have changed this room over time, and what options future first families will have to alter this office.

Stephen Rochon is the 8th Chief Usher in the history of the White House, and the first African-American to hold this job – the top position on the residence staff, with responsibility for running the public and private sides of the home. Travel along with him as he takes our crew behind the scenes as he and his staff prepare the White House for a visit from French President Nicholas Sarkozy. From the small details of making sure a candlelabra in the State Dining Room is straight, to the coordination of a red carpet arrival on the North Portico – a real glimpse of the White House at work to make it a world stage.

Travel along with us as we take you behind the scenes at the White House and into the world of its “sweet” shops. White House Pastry Chef Bill Yosses talks with us first as he and his Pastry Shop staff prepare desserts for a “White Glove” State Dinner to welcome British Queen Elizabeth to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. In the second part of the video, we join up with Mr. Yosses once more as he works in the White House Chocolate Shop to make chocolate confections for upcoming Easter parties and also chocolate recreations of the White House as it looked in 1800 in preparation for a dinner to honor James Hoban, the original architect of the White House.

Located on the Ground floor of the White House, the Main Kitchen is the place where meals as small as those prepared just for the first family to those as large as a state dinner for several hundred are made. Join White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford as she talks about the kitchen and her staff, and then takes us through the final preparations and menu for a major state dinner for the Queen of England. Following that, we catch up with her a second time on a day that is not so hectic, and she gets a chance to talk with us about how meals for the first family are planned, how menu decisions for parties and bigger dinners are made, and the pace of working in the White House.

This office is located in the East Wing of the White House, traditionally the area of the complex reserved for the First Lady and her staff. In this segment, a small staff prepares invitations, placards, citations, and White House awards the old fashioned way – by hand. We talk with them about the methods they still use as they work on a myriad of projects ranging from an upcoming state visit to an individual award being worked on by a long time calligrapher – with an interesting family history at the White House.

The White House Flower Shop is located on the ground floor of the main mansion, just under the iconic North Portico. Here, Chief Florist Nancy Clarke and her staff prepare daily arrangements for places all around the mansion – from the private quarters upstairs to the State Floor rooms and parlors, to West Wing locations. In this segment, we catch up with Ms. Clarke on two separate occasions. First she takes us on a tour through the shop and talks about the planning as she shows us the different arrangements being prepared for the visit of the Queen of England. In the second part of the segment, we visit the Flower Shop on a day when flowers are being prepared for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration. In this segment, Ms. Clarke and her staff also talk about daily life while working at the White House.

Originally a coatroom, President Franklin D. Roosevelt converts this ground floor East Wing space into the White House Theater during his time in office. It is here where he came to watch the movies and newsreels of the time, and here where all presidents and their families since have come to relax as they watch the latest film releases. In this segment, First Lady Laura Bush hosts a gathering of White House employees’ children for a screening of a Nancy Drew movie.

Gary Walters worked at the White House for over 30 years, and was the Chief Usher there from 1986-2007. The Chief Usher is the top residence staff position at the White House. In this interview segment, Mr. Walters tells stories about his experiences working with the Fords, Carters, Reagans, George HW Bushes, Clintons, and George W. Bush’s family.

Gary Walters worked at the White House for over 30 years, and was the Chief Usher there from 1986-2007. The Chief Usher is the top residence staff position at the White House. In this interview segment, Mr. Walters talks about presidential transitions at the White House and the “organized chaos” of moving one family out and the next family while the presidential inauguration is taking place at the Capitol.

Alan Merten worked in the White House during Lyndon Johnson’s presidency as a Military Social Aide. In this interview, he talks about his experiences inside the White House as he helped visitors navigate the social customs of White House functions. He also talks about his personal interactions with and stories of President Johnson and his family. Mr. Merten also recounts how easy it was to access the White House grounds during the 1960’s and how dramatically that has changed in the years since.

This evening a presentation on the beauty and history of the 18 acres surrounding the White House known as “The President’s Park” featuring White House Grounds Superintendent Dale Haney. This program was followed by an exclusive interview with President George W. Bush talking about balancing the public and private sides of life inside the White House in a post 9-11 world.


Program Segments:

There are 18 and a half acres inside the gates of the White House grounds. Known as the “President’s Park” it is the home to numerous gardens and historic groves of trees planted by presidents and first ladies. Administered by the National Park Service, it serves as both a private yard for first families, and also an extension of the public side of the White House where official arrival and departure ceremonies are held, as well as press conferences and parties for visitors. In this program, we take you through the history of the North Grounds and South Lawn areas as they have evolved over time, and into places there like the Rose Garden, the First Ladies’ Garden, and the rarely seen Children’s Garden tucked away out of the sight of most visitors. White House Grounds Superintendent Dale Haney helps tell the story in this segment.

Conducted in the Family Dining Room on the State Floor of the White House, President George W. Bush talks with C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb about life inside the White House in a post 9-11 world. In the interview, President Bush addresses how things have changed for first families since the events of 9-11, trying to live a normal life inside the “bubble” of the world’s most famous home, and working together with the residence staff. He also talks about his thoughts on the history of the White House and some of his favorite spaces inside the mansion. Specifically addressed is the Treaty Room – the president’s private office in the family quarters upstairs.

An evening inside Lincoln’s White House from 1861-1865. Our first presentation takes you into the Lincoln Bedroom, perhaps the most heard of, but least understood room in the mansion. Added to that, we broaden out to learn more about other areas of the White House where Lincoln and his family used. Our presentation then takes you to the Lincoln Cottage – his summer White House, where President Lincoln and his family would spend almost as much time at as their temporary home at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.


Program Segments:

Located in the private quarters on the second floor of the White House, the Lincoln Bedroom is perhaps the most famous room in the mansion. Originally an office for presidents before the West Wing and the Oval Office were built, it is here where Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and here where one of the 5 remaining copies of the Gettysburg Address is housed. The room was named the Lincoln Bedroom by President Harry Truman.

In this program, world renowned Lincoln Historian Harold Holzer sits down with C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb in the Lincoln Bedroom itself for the most in-depth view ever of this space and how Lincoln used this as his office during his time in the White House from 1861-1865. Mr. Holzer also describes other parts of the White House as Lincoln would have seen and used them during his time, including the private family quarters just down the hall from the Lincoln Bedroom and the window above the North Portico of the White House, where Lincoln made his last speech.

To escape the both the heat of Washington summers as well as the crowds that would inundate both him and his family at the White House, President Lincoln and his family spent significant amounts of time during his presidency at a cottage just about 3 miles from the White House.

In this program, learn the story of Lincoln’s time there as we offer the most extensive view ever on video of Lincoln’s Summer Cottage. Located at one of the highest points in Washington, DC, this rarely seen place on the grounds of the US Soldiers home was just recently redone and refurbished to accurately reflect its look and function during the years that Lincoln, Mary, and his sons stayed there. World renowned Lincoln historians Edna Greene Medford, Matthew Pinsker, and Lincoln Cottage Director Frank Milligan help tell the story of this little known presidential hideaway.

Harold Holzer is one of the world’s foremost Lincoln experts. In this program, he takes viewer phone-in questions about a number of topics related to Abraham Lincoln and his family’s time in the White House.

Following an encore presentation of our feature documentary “The White House: Inside America’s Most Famous Home” we take the viewer inside the production process that played itself out over the months our crews and producers spent inside the White House and then inside editing suites at our offices on Capitol Hill.


Program Segments:

Videotaping inside the public and private spaces of the White House as well as its outside grounds for this series took over a year to complete as C-SPAN worked around the schedule of President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush. Series Executive Producer Mark Farkas and Director of Photography Bob Reilly talk about the behind the scenes aspects and challenges of working together with the White House staff to bring viewers the most extensive view ever of the nation’s symbolic home.

In addition to encore presentations of our exclusive interviews with President and Mrs. Bush, this evening focused on several presidents and their important roles in shaping how we see the White House today. World renowned White House and Presidential historians Richard Norton Smith, Doris Kearns Goodwin, William Seale, Lonnie Bunch and Anthony Pitch takes us back in time to understand the home today.


Program Segments:

In this segment, historians Richard Norton Smith, Doris Kearns Goodwin, William Seale and Anthony Pitch talk about the integral role that George Washington played in the design, location, and building of the White House – in the new city on the Potomac named after him. President Washington is the only president to have never lived in the White House.

In this segment, historians Richard Norton Smith, William Seale, and Lonnie Bunch talk about Theodore and Edith Roosevelt’s changes made to the White House – both physical and ceremonial changes that are still in evidence today. The Roosevelts oversaw the construction of the West Wing of the White House, a refurbishing of the central mansion and they also instituted new protocol rules there.

In this segment, historians Richard Norton Smith, William Seale and Doris Kearns Goodwin talk about the significance of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s time in the White House. The Roosevelts and their extended family and friends lived there longer than any other first couple, from 1933-1945. During this time, the White House West and East wings were expanded, a new Oval Office was built that has been in use since then, and the grounds of the White House took the shape that they still have today.

In this segment, historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and William Seale talk about President Lyndon Johnson’s time in the White House – from the highs of his Great Society bills to the lows of Vietnam and the protests outside the home that could be heard inside by President Johnson and his family. Mrs. Goodwin also recounts personal stories of her time in the White House with President Johnson as she worked there as a White House fellow, and formed a friendship with him that would lead to her work on his memoirs after he leaves the White House in 1969.