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Texas White House Audio Described Tour

Lyndon B Johnson National Historical Park

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The Home of President and Mrs. Johnson grew from a small two-room, two-story limestone structure in 1895 to a large home over 8,400 square feet by the time he left the presidency in 1969. Known today as the Texas White House, this two-story home has 28 rooms. There are 8 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms. Most of the home has been set to its 1960s, presidential year’s appearance. When it was possible, original artifacts and furniture pieces were used, thanks to the generosity of the Johnson family. This tour explores 11 rooms on the first floor. The Office was an addition built by the Johnsons in 1958 while he was Senate Majority Leader. The room is 27 by 24 feet. The walls are knotty pine including an 11-foot long partition dividing part of the room. The dropped ceiling tiles are white, and there are several, long fluorescent light fixtures. Three secretary desks sit in three corners, and the president’s desk sits in the fourth. The first secretary desk is at the porch entry door next to the partition wall. Like the other secretary desks, it has a typewriter and multi-line rotary telephone. A tooled leather saddle sits underneath Plexiglas along the length of the partition. The other two secretary desks flank a fieldstone fireplace with a large portrait of Senator Johnson above the mantle. These two desks have double closet doors behind them, and above the right set of closets is a remote-controlled television built into the wall. The president’s desk sits directly across from the television. Behind his large, two-sided desk are eight shelves built into the wall. The shelves contain mostly books as well as some personal mementos. The president’s chair is light blue, as are most of the chairs in the room, including an armchair near the fireplace. It has the presidential seal on its headrest and a pillow on its seat which reads, “this is my ranch and I do as I damn please”. In between the president’s desk and the partition wall is a door that leads into the dining room.

Through a small vestibule containing a narrow back stairway, the Dining Room is 25 by 16 feet. Three sides have wainscoting panels and pastoral wallpaper in muted tones. The fourth wall has a curtained picture window facing north towards the ranch land. A small breakfast table sits at this window and has two bird identification books upon it. Underneath a simple chandelier, a large dining room table is set for eight. Three Queen Anne style dining chairs sit on each long side with an additional chair at the head on the right. The Queen Anne style dining chairs each have a different, needlepoint wildflower on its seat. At the opposite table head on the left, an unusual faux cowhide chair sits with its back to the large picture window. This executive chair was for President Johnson. Besides the rolling executive chair, just below the table on the left table leg, a small telephone is installed. Each place is set with dinnerware – all made of decorative Mexican pottery – with the main plate, salad plate, cup, and saucer. There is also a stemmed glass, silverware, and blue napkin on a woven placemat at each setting. A door near the picture window leads into the kitchen. The Kitchen is an L-shaped room about 500 square feet. The first part of the kitchen has long, yellow Formica countertops with ample cabinet space both above and below. Some cabinets are open for the display of dishes and cookbooks. There is a kitchen sink below a window at one end of the room. At the end of the countertop on the right is a small yellow table with chrome legs. It has green chairs on one side and matching yellow chairs on the other. There is a fruit display at its center. This table sits below a pastel wallpaper panel. Next to the table along the corner wall, there are three large units; from left to right, there is a double-doored, gray refrigerator, a large freezer with a small television on top, and a circular water heater. Across from those on the left is a large stove and stainless steel range hood. A few silver pots are placed on the gas burners and a display pecan pie sits on a square griddle. At this end of the kitchen, there are more cabinets, small counter spaces, and a second sink below a pass-through window. A door at the counter’s end opens to a utility room and butler’s pantry. A second door leads from the kitchen into the den. The Den is 22 by 15 feet and is considered the central room of the house. Most walls have wallpaper with repeated patterns of forest animals and nature on a light background. Immediately to the right is an L-shaped staircase framing that corner. Below the stairs on the right wall is a door leading to the Living Room. A glass-paneled bookcase display sits next to that door. Across is a long wall that has the front door on the right, next to the bookcase, and a tall window on the left. A small orange sofa sits between the window and the front door. It has three needlepoint pillows of Texas wildlife that compliment the wallpaper. Two end tables with matching lamps flank the orange sofa, and a coffee table in front of the sofa is made of an old oak tree. The left wall is made of knotty pine panels and has a small fireplace with a red-brick frame and hearth. A landscape painting of the Texas Hill Country sits above a thin wooden mantle. A door to the right of the fireplace leads into a hallway vestibule. The Yellow Sitting Room is 15 by 17 feet and is named for its appearance; the walls, curtains, two matching chairs, and lampshades are all yellow. A white, built-in bookcase fills the wall on the left. On its shelves are numerous books including an encyclopedia set, framed family photographs, and a few mementos. A small box television with dials and a handle is centrally placed on the lowest shelf above the cabinets at the base. Directly across from this bookcase are bay windows facing out to the front yard that takes up the entire wall. Floor-to-ceiling curtains with a diagonal diamond pattern cover the windows. There is a round-tiered side table centered at the window. It holds one lamp and is flanked by two chairs. Leather footstools are placed before each chair. The two remaining walls are yellow and have artwork. On the window end of these yellow walls are matching, white, built-in bookcases, one on each wall. Most of the five shelves contain books and photo albums. One shelf displays only ceramic bird figurines. One of the yellow walls has a doorway into the president’s walk-in closet.

The President’s Closet is 13 by 9 feet and is divided by a partition with shelves holding round hat boxes and over a dozen pairs of shoes. The left side of the closet contains many clothes on hangers. The shirts hanging on the upper rod and pants hang on the lower rod. There are also a few shelves holding blankets, folded shorts, and swim trunks in original packaging. The right side of the closet has a doorway into the bathroom. This door has cabinets on one side and closet space on the other side. This space is used to display LBJ monogrammed luggage and one of his casual beige ranch outfits.]

The President’s Bathroom is 7 by 9 feet with half-tiled walls and yellow-striped wallpaper. Toiletries and a yellow sink stand are on the left wall. A mirror runs the length here above a built-in tiled shelf. A curtained window is across from the bathroom entrance. There is a towel rack holding green towels with “Air Force One” and the presidential seal woven into them. These are beside a rotary phone built into the half-tiled wall and within reach of the toilet. The toilet is set against the right wall, and it is next to the glass shower door.

The President’s Bedroom is a large, rectangular room, 24 by 17 feet. The floor has blue carpet, and there are numerous square, recessed lights in the ceiling. The walls are white, and the artwork around the room is of western landscape and grandchildren portraits. Most of the upholstered furniture and the curtains are beige. To the right in the corner are three side-by-side box televisions. A large, curtained window is in the center of the right wall beyond the televisions. In front of this window, there are two tan club chairs facing each other with a small bookcase table at their sides. In the back of the room, a massage table is set in the center. Behind it on the back wall is a wide dresser and an outside door. A tall dresser is on the right back wall and a draped round table is in the back left corner. Each has small framed pictures, a table clock, and other miscellaneous pieces on it. The master bedroom on the left wall is a wooden, Jenny Lind spool-post king bed with an off-white bed cover. A red bedroom bench is at the foot of the bed. Dark wood bed tables sit on either side of the master bed, each with a rotary telephone. Above the headboard on the left wall, there are two long and separate switch plates. One is for the internal Muzak and intercom system, the second has switches for the numerous ceiling lights. In the left corner of the room is a doorway leading across a hallway to Mrs. Johnson’s Bedroom Suite. Across a hallway, Mrs. Johnson’s Bedroom has French provincial furniture, soft colors, and floral curtains giving it an overall pleasant feeling. This white-walled room is 24 by 17 feet which includes a small bump-out space. The first wall to the right of the entry is a floor-to-ceiling built-in bookcase. On display are numerous pieces of Chinese porcelain and vases as well as several porcelain bird statuettes. Many books line the lower two shelves and a central shelf holds equipment such as a brownie camera, a tape recorder, and a microphone. The right wall has a bump-out bay window which is curtained from floor to ceiling. In this bump-out space is a small writing desk and chair. The back wall has a central fireplace with candlesticks on its mantle and a landscape painting. The fireplace is flanked by two identical shuddered windows with small built-in bookcases below them. In addition to numerous books, there are several framed pictures of family and friends. On the back left wall, there is a wide dresser and mirror, and in the center of the back of this room is a sitting area with a small blue sofa and pink club chair facing two upholstered chairs. The bed has a light pink bedspread and a cream-colored headboard. Two decorative pillows lean against the bed pillows; one reads “I slept and dreamed that life was beauty”. The second reads “I woke and found that life was duty”. A door to the left of the bed enters the walk-in closet. Mrs. Johnson’s Closet is 12 by 10 feet and some of its widths is found in built-in closets. There are three closet areas on both the left and the right, each containing many hanging pieces of colorful garments. Next to the bedroom door, there is a built-in shoe closet that holds three or four pairs of shoes on each of five shelves. Above those, an additional three shelves hold blankets. Across the length of the closet is a small counter in the corner with cabinets above and below. The door to the bathroom is next to this cabinet counter.

Mrs. Johnson’s Bathroom is 9 by 11 feet. There are two half-tiled walls with floral wallpaper; the first of these walls is across from the closet entrance, and this is where the bathtub is located. The toilet is to the right of the bathtub, and the two are separated by a low, tiled partition. The second wallpapered wall is to the right, and it has numerous family photographs in oval and square frames on it. There are also three diamond-shaped hangers holding many large necklaces on that wall. These hang above the sink counter which is the third wall. A mirror runs above the length of the marbled counter. The last wall has cabinet storage and a door to the hallway.

The Living Room is the heart of the house. This rectangular room is 28 by 17 feet, and each smooth, white wall has a door. Two of the doors lead to outside porches, and the other two doors lead into rooms. A large fireplace stands out from the west wall. It is made of bricks painted white. A raised hearth wraps around the brick fireplace. Above the large firebox is a metal awning, and a mantel is just above the awning. Unlike the rest of the house, the living room appears to be in a temporary state due to structure renovation. Work on the ceiling has exposed the second story floorboards above the cross beams. Carpet has been removed, revealing the original, wooden floor. Several pieces of furniture covered in cloth sheets fill much of the space along the walls Within this cluttered storage area, two original artifacts are evident on either side of the room. In between the front door and a window are three small television sets placed together side by side. This display offers an example of how the room appeared on the tour route before the renovation work. The second artifact still in place is a Knabe piano in the opposite corner. This upright piano sits in between the two inner doors. To the right of the piano, the door leads to the den. To the left, the doorway enters into the dining room.

Description

Guided, audio-described virtual tour through the first floor of the Texas White House, home of President Lyndon Johnson.