Designing Camelot: The Kennedy White House Restoration

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Overview

Nowhere was the "Kennedy style" more evident than in the rooms in which the young President and his wife Jacqueline lived and worked between 1961 and 1963, as America witnessed the transformation of its premier residence from "home of the President" to "house-museum."

Designing Camelot is the first book to document the restoration of the White House by Jacqueline Kennedy and her advisors--the most significant and extensive restoration to date. Under the watchful eye of the Fine ...

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Overview

Nowhere was the "Kennedy style" more evident than in the rooms in which the young President and his wife Jacqueline lived and worked between 1961 and 1963, as America witnessed the transformation of its premier residence from "home of the President" to "house-museum."

Designing Camelot is the first book to document the restoration of the White House by Jacqueline Kennedy and her advisors--the most significant and extensive restoration to date. Under the watchful eye of the Fine Arts Committee for the White House, chaired by famed antiquarian Henry Francis du Pont, and, unbeknownst to the American public, French interior designer Stephane Boudin, the White House became a model for historic houses all over America. Many of the country's governors' mansions were renovated as state First Ladies strove to emulate the efforts of a sophisticated Jacqueline Kennedy.

Through rich anecdotes and a stunning collection of four-color and black-and-white photographs, Designing Camelot illustrates the rich interiors of the White House, while at the same time exploring the restoration as an extension of the Kennedy/Camelot legacy. Individual chapters examine the White House room by room, inviting a look at not only familiar public places like the Oval Office and West Wing, but the Kennedys' private quarters as well.

Kennedy enthusiasts, interior designers, architects, preservationists, museum professionals, collectors, history buffs, and White House watchers alike will enjoy this intimate look at the taste and style of Jacqueline Kennedy, the most emulated First Lady of America, and the relationship between an extraordinary client and her designers.

Far beyond the mere selection of furniture and fabrics, the renovation of the White House reflected the desire of the Kennedys--Jacqueline Kennedy in particular--to associate themselves with a grand historical past. Designing Camelot captures this incredible era as never before, and offers a unique insight into the collective Kennedy mind and personality.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Hellman, who teaches English at Ohio StateLima, isn't out to strip away the mythic veneer to disclose all the failings underneath, but rather to show the evolution of those myths in the first place. He starts by looking at the influence that individual works such as David Cecil's The Young Melbourne, John Buchan's Pilgrim's Way, the movie Red River, or figures such as Byron and Hemingway had on Kennedy's imagined self. Hellman proposes that Kennedy was deeply aware of image: for example, he wrote Profiles in Courage because he knew that as a national candidate, he needed to "cue the media to move his characterization forward from the role of immature boy." The most interesting pages are those few that show how Kennedy's heroic self-image influenced his time in office. For Kennedy, says Hellman, a dilemma was best dealt with as a crisisU.S. Steel crisis, Civil Rights crisis and, most of all, Cuban Missile crisiscomplete with a deadline, "in which he played the role of hero in the decisive confrontation." The most vexatious issue in studies of personal myth-building is the key question of consciousness. Kennedy, in Hellman's thesis, seems to have been greatly aware of subtle influences. Of Kennedy's admiration for Montgomery Clift's character in Red River, for example Hellman notes, "Kennedy... may even have recognized a correspondence between the macho masquerade he himself performed to cover his `feminine' aspects and the homosexual actor's role." (Oct.) FYI: Hellman notes that Jackie's White House restoration, "offered a heightened version of the domestic role of the average housewife." Van Nostran Reinhold will release a lengthy illustrated analysis in Designing Camelot: The Kennedy White House Restoration by James A. Abbott and Elaine M. Rice. ($50 256p ISBN 0-442-02532-7; Oct.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780442025328
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/1/1997
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 8.85 (w) x 11.19 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Meet the Author

JAMES A. ABBOTT is currently Curator of Decorative Arts at the Baltimore Museum of Art. ELAINE M. RICE is an independent consultant on American fine art and decorative arts in Wilmington, Delaware.
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Table of Contents

Foreword ix
Acknowledgments x
Chapter 1 The Kennedy Style 1
Chapter 2 Restoration: Idea and Organization 15
Chapter 3 Maison Blanche 47
Chapter 4 The State Dining Room 55
Chapter 5 The East Room 65
Chapter 6 The Red Room 77
Chapter 7 The Green Room 89
Chapter 8 The Blue Room 101
Chapter 9 The Ground Floor 119
Chapter 10 Halls 133
Chapter 11 The Private Dining Rooms 153
Chapter 12 The Yellow Oval Room 163
Chapter 13 Guest Rooms 175
Chapter 14 The Victorian Taste 185
Chapter 15 The Private Rooms 197
Chapter 16 The President's Office and Cabinet Room 211
Epilogue: The Legacy 221
Appendix 225
Endnotes 229
Bibliography 245
Index 253
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 9, 2014

    Awesome....!Beautiful....!Wonderful....!I really enjoy it.....!

    Awesome....!Beautiful....!Wonderful....!I really enjoy it.....!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2000

    An Extraordinary Lady

    This book is a fine record of an amazing project. Mrs. Kennedy transformed the President's home into a national treasure. I had no idea over 30 rooms were restored. The history of America is laid before our eyes with furniture, paintings, china & objet d'art from the last 200 years. The abilites of the First Lady never cease to astound me. How she did this all at the age of 31 is beyond me. The White House is her legacy & for that, I am grateful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2000

    THE KENNEDY STYLE

    An insight view into the Kennedy White house restoration. Wonderful photos!! Worth every dime spent!!!! Ten Stars!!!!!!!!!! PLEASE E-MAIL ME FOR DISCUSSIONS ON JACKIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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