Saturday, June 24, 2017

From The White House Historical Association.

“The important thing is to preserve the 19th-century feeling of Lafayette Square,” declared First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy as she reviewed plans to redevelop the White House neighborhood. When she learned the architects in charge of the project planned to tear down the row houses that surrounded the park, the first lady was horrified. She began writing letters and making calls, and, in the process, became a powerful advocate for historic preservation in Washington, D.C.

“Today, the row houses flanking the square — including the buildings housing the White House Historical Association — stand as an enduring testament to Mrs. Kennedy’s efforts.”
First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and architect John Carl Warnecke reviewing plans for the preservation of Lafayette Square.

“Before John F. Kennedy became president, Congress approved plans to raze the historic Renwick House and other 19th-century structures on Lafayette Square to make room for new, modern office buildings for federal workers. In addition to her restoration of the White House, the first lady turned her attention to its neighborhood.
     She enlisted the help of architect John Carl Warnecke, who drew up plans to restore the square’s 19th-century buildings and build new ones in a similar style. The government could construct large office buildings behind them, balancing the need for space with historic preservation. The first lady’s efforts ensured the survival of these historic homes.
     After President Kennedy’s death, First Lady Claudia ‘Lady Bird’ Johnson continued Mrs. Kennedy’s efforts to preserve historic sites. She campaigned for passage of the 1966 National Historic Preservation Act, and its signers acknowledged Mrs. Kennedy’s role in saving Lafayette Square as an inspiration for future urban preservation projects.”