Across the street and just a few doors down from The White House on Pennsylvania Avenue sits Blair House
, a line of four 19th-century townhouses that together serve as the guest house for foreign heads of state visiting the president. During one recent holiday season, the United States Department of State, which manages the use of Blair House, teamed up with the Magazine Publishers of America
to decorate the rooms. Then they held a reception, hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for the families of the Unaccompanied, Department of State employees posted to areas abroad that are too dangerous for their families to join them.
Six magazines participated, and This Old House
took on two spaces in the house, one of which was the Lincoln Room just off the main hall of the original 1824 structure. The room is named for President Abraham Lincoln, who used to meet here with his friend and confidant, Francis Preston Blair. It is also here that in 1861 Lincoln asked Robert E. Lee to lead the Union Army in the Civil War. Lee, a native Virginian, refused the post and went on to take command of the Confederate Army. Portraits of both Lee and Lincoln hang in the room.
The decorations TOH
created for the room draw from the Federal-style architecture of the original house and traditional trimmings used during the period.