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Remodeling in History: 1948 — President Truman Slammed for Building a Balcony Off the White House


In 1948, President Harry Truman wanted to add a balcony on the side of the White House and his detractors were up in arms.

“Women especially seem to resent the fact that Mr. Truman is altering the White House a few months before the people are choosing a president,” David Lawrence reported in the Spokane Daily Chronicle on Jan. 19, 1948. “The argument is frequently made that Mr. Truman was never elected to the presidency, but got into the White House by accident. If he were to be reelected, it is assumed opinions might be different.

“The President in his press conference replied to criticism in congress that he was only ‘a temporary tenant’ by saying all presidents are temporary.”

(Note: Truman succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his historic fourth term. Truman was indeed elected to a second term and served until Jan. 20, 1953.)

The reporter goes on to say that Truman missed the point and that the White House belongs to the people and any structural changes should be left to an impartial and nonpolitical board, the Fine Arts Commission, which had already rejected the proposal.

“For Mr. Truman to go ahead anyhow, as he is now doing, is not only bad taste, but bad politics,” the reporter wrote.

A Republican congressman from Pennsylvania said he objected to the project because the $15,000 would be taken from the maintenance and upkeep fund and he said that was illegal.

Truman was probably trying to recreate the ambiance of his beloved home in Key West, Fla., (below) which was known as the Little White House.

Harry Truman outside the Little White HouseSee more celebrities, porches and outdoors

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