Click on photos to enlarge.

Monday, August 7, 2017

White House Copies

No, it's not Donald Trump's plan to re-landscape the south lawn.
This White House copy really exists. It's in Dallas, Texas.
Millions of Americans would love to live in the White House. Only a couple handfuls are willing to pay the price. Along with the beautiful, white, Georgian mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. comes the most the most difficult job in the world. Just ask President Trump. Along with that job come a significant loss of privacy, incessant criticism, political intrigue, and more headaches than the "winner" of such a prize could ever have imagined. In effect, it's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it. The plush mansion, the massive , black limousines, Air Force One, a Marine helicopter, a wooded retreat in the Catoctin Mountains, and a sizable White House staff simply makes the job possible and a bit more pleasant.

The White House in Washington, D.C. Look but don't touch.
However, if you have between four million and ten million dollars (depending upon the number of chandeliers desired) and you have a yearning to live in the White House (or a close substitute), without all the hassles of the job doing so entails, then look up a real estate agent just across the Potomac in McLean, Virginia, there are two pretty good White House replicas (below) you can snap up for about four million. They're not perfect. They've been scaled down to human proportions and modified somewhat to the tastes of the builders and numerous occupants since, but they should suffice to impress your friends and relatives.

Neither are pure white and both porticos are poorly proportioned, but only former presidents would notice.
A while back I placed the White House as number 8 in my list of The Ten Most Beautiful Buildings in the World. If imitation is the sincerest form of praise, then I should probably move it up a few notches on my list. However, the White House is the only building on my list which anyone is likely to build their own version. And if you think the examples I've pictured above are the only attempts to emulate architect James Hoban's White House you'd be wrong. Depending upon how much authenticity and the scale you might demand, there are probably at least a dozen others all over the world.

Leinster House, Dublin, Ireland, dates from 1745-47.
Actually, Hoban's design for the White House in Washington, D.C. is, in fact, an imitation of a similar such mansion known originally as Kildare House in Dublin, Ireland. It's referred to today as Leinster House (above). And, except for the majestic porticos, and several dozen coats of white paint (which were added after the 1814 fire) the two buildings bear a remarkable resemblance.

Built in 2001, the cost was a little less than $10-million.
Perhaps the most accurate privately own version of the White House is nowhere near Washington. It's in Atlanta, Georgia, at 3687 Briarcliff Road (sometimes listed as Decatur, Georgia). From the front, the match with the real White House is perfect, though the building has been reduced in size to 3/4 scale. However, despite the curved portico in the rear, the other elevation appears to be straight out of Hollywood or perhaps Palm Springs. The house was built by Atlanta home builder Fred Milani, an American citizen born in Iran. Inside the facade the Atlanta mansion departs from any semblance of White House replication with a hodgepodge of details including a number of religious images, American political iconography, and McMansion details like coffered ceilings, wrought iron banisters and a sweeping staircase. The home also includes an Oval Office with a replica of George W. Bush’s desk. There is also a Lincoln bedroom with a picture of Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation painted on a bedroom wall.

Chinese White House, Hangzhou, China
The great imitators of the best America has to offer also have their version of the White House (above). This one was built by Huang Qiaoling, one of the richest men in China, costing around $10 million. His replica of the White House is the centerpiece of his garden so that he can “meet business associates in the "Oval Office.” Huang made a few tweaks to suit his personal tastes. For example, in one cabinet, he has substituted tomes on American history with minibar bottles of Remy Martin and a gaggle of dime-store ceramic ducks. On the mantelpiece of the Green Room stands a statue of Genghis Khan, whom ‘President Huang,’ as his staff insists on calling him, counts as his personal hero. And outside the window of the Blue Room, which Huang uses as his office, is a one-third-size Mount Rushmore with employees’ quarters tucked in the back. Those Chinese think of everything, don't they?

President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Little White House" in Warm Springs,
Georgia--barely a cottage as compared to its D.C. counterpart.
In Warm Springs, Georgia stands The Little White House. It was built in 1932 as the personal retreat of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States. Insofar as it being a replica of the Big White House, it's probably the worst copy ever copied. Not only is in much smaller, but bears only a passing resemblance to Roosevelt's presidential residence. Roosevelt kept the house after he became President, using it as a presidential retreat. Of all the White House replicas, this one has the closest connection to a president than any other. Roosevelt died there on April 12, 1945, three months into his fourth term. He was having his portrait painted at the time.

Lego White House, Legoland, Carlsbad, California
Though not private residences, the classical architectural lines of Hoban's Executive Mansion have also found there way into at least two tourist destination. The first is Legoland located in Carlsbad, California (above) where the White House is replicated totally in plastic Lego "bricks." In Corona California, John and Jan Zweifel have what is considered to be one of the world’s greatest miniature houses, a recreation of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue which has taken over 38 years in building (below). It is updated with each administration. Built at a one-foot-to-one-inch scale, the touring model replica allows millions a glimpse into the off-limits life of each president.

John and Jan Zweifel's miniature masterpiece is not a dollhouse.  
And finally, a White House replication so monstrously silly I'm somewhat reluctant to include it among all these others. Tucked away (fortunately) in the Wisconsin Dells near Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park, is what's called Top Secret. Basically it's an upside-down White House with the exterior architectural detail relatively accurate. Admission is $12. Kids love it, adults usually come away wondering why they wasted their time and money. It's actually a glorified haunted house with little or no tour guide references to the real White House. Trip Advisor review seldom give it more than one "star."

I'll hold off on the political wisecracks.


No comments:

Post a Comment