This morning, 1 April 2020, the First Lady's spokeswoman, Ann LeHay, announced that Melania Trump would be overseeing a major redecorating effort of the White House Library throughout the summer and early autumn months. The contractor overseeing the project, William Taylor, is promising a mid-October completion date—giving the First Family sufficient time to celebrate Ivanka Trump Kushner's 39th birthday, the day before Halloween, in the newly decorated space.
What surprised many architectural design historians is that the administration will be converting the room into a Billiards Parlor. Says the spokeswoman, "The books will be transferred to the Library of Congress and stored there safely until further decisions are made about their future." When asked why the library is being converted into a pool room, LeHay answered, "No one was using the Library in its current form. The First Lady wanted to leave a design legacy in the White House—one that was modern, functional, unpretentious and fun. The boys have been asking for a billiards room since their father's inauguration in 2017. Mrs. Trump wanted to do something nice for them, to give them something fun to do during family visits." Ms. LeHay's reference to "the boys" has been interpreted to mean Donald Trump, Jr., Eric Trump and Jarod Kushner.
Another surprising feature of the renovation is that the Billiards Room will be decorated in the Arts & Crafts style. Many decorative arts historians were surprised to learn that this request came from the President himself. "My father, Fred C. Trump, was born in 1905. I asked Melania to decorate the Billiards Room in honor of him—of his birthday, 1905. A great year. And Fred Trump was a great pool player!" The Arts & Crafts movement coincides nicely with the year of Trump Sr.'s birth. The President also requested that the new design duplicate the style of the Billiards Room at Mar-a-Lago, the President's golf club and hotel in Palm Beach, Florida. "The only thing I asked," said Mr. Trump, "is make it just like the Pool Room at The Winter White House. Mar-a-Lago, The Winter White House. It's beautiful."
Money to undertake the project have been earmarked by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, out of the $500 billion in discretionary funds recently appropriated by Congress for the Coronavirus Stimulus Bill. The contractor has been asked to use the funds to pay workers who would otherwise be unemployed due to the shutdown during the viral pandemic. "This is a legitimate—and worthy—effort to keep America's construction workers employed," said Mnuchin. When asked how much the project would cost, he demurred. "The total cost has not been determined, yet. We'll get back to you." When questioned, the contractor, Mr. Taylor, admitted that "It's a big job." He added, "We will start April First. After we finish at the White House, we'll continue down at Mar-a-Lago, working on the Billiards Room at The Winter White House. The President wants the room in Florida to look just like the room in the White House. And he wants it all completed by New Year's Eve. I want to submit all my invoices well before Christmas."
Members of the press questioned spokeswoman LeHay about the unusual design period choice and expressed surprise that President Trump was familiar with (or appreciated) the Arts & Crafts aesthetic. "The President knows what he likes. He thought it was time to update the White House. And the President's son-in-law had decorated his college apartment with antique Mission furniture and lighting. Jarod was very supportive of this design direction." When asked for comment, the First Lady made a brief response: "The White House and the American Country will always Be Best."
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