• View of the White House's north side from Layfatte Park

    President's Park (White House)

    District of Columbia

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1934 - 1938 Tree Lightings

1934 National Christmas Tree

Of the two Fraser firs planted in Lafayette Square, the west tree was selected for the 1934 lighting ceremony.  In the background is the statue of Andrew Jackson.

National Park Service Historic Photograph Collection/Harpers Ferry Center

Lafayette Park

In Lafayette Park, north of the White House, two Fraser fir trees were planted, in 1934, on the east and west sides of the Jackson Statue in hopes that they would be used in alternate years. President Franklin D. Roosevelt never missed the ceremony nor the opportunity to deliver a Christmas Eve message heard by radio listeners coast to coast. During one on the lighting ceremonies the President repeated pushed the button only to have the tree remain dark. Newspapers later reported the button pushed by the President actually signaled an electrician (stationed down a manhole under the street) to light the tree.

by C. L. Arbelbide
January 6, 2001

Did You Know?

White House Sandstone (NPS Photo by J. Feeney)

Scottish stonemasons were hired to build and carve the sandstone walls of the White House. Painters then covered the walls in 1798 with a whitewash to keep water and ice from seeping inside the walls and breaking them apart. So it was white from the beginning.