Holiday in the National Parks at the White House
Contact: Tom Markwardt, 724-329-5805
Friendship Hill National Historic Site Ornament Displayed on the Official White House Christmas Tree
“Holiday in the National Parks” Celebrated at the White House
POINT MARION, Pa. Hung about waist high on this year’s official White House Christmas Tree, visitors can see an ornament depicting Albert Gallatin’s Friendship Hill in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. The tree is the centerpiece of elaborate decorations celebrating the theme of “Holiday in the National Parks.”
The tree, located in the Blue Room, is adorned with handmade ornaments representing the country’s 391 National Park Service sites. “Each ornament on the magnificent 18-foot Fraser fir was designed by an artist selected by the park,” said National Park Service Director Mary A. Bomar. “The ornaments tell the stories of our parks, just as our parks tell the stories of our nation.”
“It is an amazing honor for the National Park Service to be selected as the theme for the White House holiday decorations by the President and Mrs. Bush,” said Bomar. “Mrs. Bush is the best champion for our national parks, and the beautiful decorations in each state room showcase the natural and historical treasures found in parks throughout the country.”
John Pisarcik of South Park, Pennsylvania, created the ornament representing Friendship Hill National Historic Site. The hand painted ornament features Albert Gallatin’s house at Friendship Hill. A commercial artist with a studio in Pittsburgh, Pisarcik was involved in the restoration project at Friendship Hill in 2005. For that project, he painted the actual trim of the historic Gallatin house.
Pisarcik said the project was not easy. He normally works in oil on canvas, but used acrylics to paint the scene on the five inch glass ball. “I spoke with a lot of the artists and they all agreed this is very difficult format,” said Pisarcik.
In return for his labor, Pisarcik and his wife, Cynthia, were invited to a reception in the White House for the unveiling of the tree. Pisarcik never imagined himself being inside the White House. He said, “It was a wonderful reception. It was quite an experience to be invited to the White House. There were over 500 people there, artists from all over the country. I think every state was represented.”
Albert Gallatin was no stranger to the White House. He served for almost 13 years in the cabinets of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison as the Secretary of the Treasury.
“National Parks commemorate the people, places, and events that define the American experience,” said Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne. “I am so appreciative of President Bush’s efforts to recognize the important role of national parks in American society. Our country will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016 and the President has been instrumental in establishing the National Park Centennial Initiative to prepare the parks for the next century.”
Friendship Hill National Historic Site is located on Rt. 166 between Point Marion, PA and New Geneva, PA. The Gallatin house is open Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For further information contact the National Park Service at (724) 725-9190.
Did You Know?
While Albert Gallatin was “content to live and die amongst the Monongahela hills”, his wife Hannah did not care for the country life at Friendship Hill. Gallatin wrote "...my wife's principle occupation...is to count the number of weeks and days which are to elapse before our departure...”