I was truly taken aback when reading the following paragraph in The New York Times.
The Trump International Hotel in Washington, just five blocks from the White House, could also take on an outsize role in the Trump administration. His children may stay there when they come to the nation’s capital, and there is chatter that it may supplant Blair House, which traditionally hosts foreign dignitaries visiting the president.
Being aware of history and fond of traditions the idea that this nation would give up using Blair House for international guests is troubling. Any president who would have made the suggestion as to having people stay elsewhere would be met with my same reaction.
I am sure most have heard the story of how it came to mind with FDR that there was really a need for a place for such guests to stay, since it was clear during WWII that the White House was too small.
FDR made the decision for the government to buy Blair House in 1942. The reason can not be placed solely on the shoulders of Winston Churchill, but history does provide enough reason as to why FDR made the purchase.
Franklin Roosevelt, Jr., recalls the morning his mother found the prime minister wandering towards the family’s private quarters at 3 a.m., trademark cigar in hand, to rouse the sleeping president for more conversation. He met Eleanor first, however, who firmly persuaded him to wait until breakfast.
Blair House is larger than the White House now following massive renovations starting in the 1950’s. It was first constructed in 1824. The original brick house was built as a private home for the eighth Surgeon General of the United States Army. It was acquired in 1836 by Francis Preston Blair, a newspaper publisher and influential advisor to President Andrew Jackson, and remained in his family for the following century. My interest in this home began with an interest in President Lincoln as Francis Blair’s son, Montgomery Blair, succeeded his father as resident of Blair House. Montgomery Blair was Postmaster General in Abraham Lincoln’s administration.
Notable guests who have stayed at Blair House include Vyacheslav Molotov, Emperor Akihito, Queen Elizabeth II, Charles de Gaulle, François Mitterrand, Vladimir Putin, Boris Yeltsin, Hosni Mubarak, Margaret Thatcher, Javier Perez de Cuellar, Nambaryn Enkhbayar, Narendra Modi, Hamid Karzai, and Justin Trudeau. During the state funeral of a former President of the United States, the former president’s family customarily resides in the guest house for the duration of the observances.
In other words this is a place of great history and weight in this nation.
Now I am well aware that Donald Trump–by his own sad admission–does not like to read. So throwing in the fact that this home was important in the Civil War will not carry any water any more than mentioning notables from around the globe who have stayed there when visiting this nation. It is also a sad truth that if one took away Trump’s money all that would be left is white trash. His life and how he lives it shows that to be very true.
The glitz and fake polish that Trump tries to attach to such places as his Washington Hotel can never match the charm and deep history embedded in the Blair House. But that is the difference between people with values and traditions, and cads with too much cash but no taste.