In 1981, the White House Historical Association (WHHA) created an ornament in the shape of an angel. The angel was similar to the ones found on weathervanes in the area, including on the top of Mount Vernon, and was designed to honor the presidency of George Washington. Every year since, the association has created an ornament commemorating a past president or anniversary related to the White House. Special occasions that ornaments have represented include the bicentennials of John Adams moving into the White House in 1902 and founding of the American presidency in 1989. ChemArt Manufacturing in Lincoln, Rhode Island was selected to make the first ornament in 1981, and they have made every year’s ornament since.
Here are descriptions of some of the presidential ornaments from the past:
· 1984 – One of the earliest ornaments from the collection, this one is all gold and features Thomas Jefferson on one side and the words “peace and friendship” on the other.
· 1993 – This is the only WHHA ornament featuring a first lady. Julia Tyler, John Tyler’s second wife was 30 years younger than him and only lived in the White House for nine months because his term ended less than a year after they were married.
· 1994 – Depicts James Polk (1845-1849) and his wife listening to the Marine Band outside the White House
· 1997 – This ornament features another scene outside the White House, and is set during the time of Franklin Pierce’s presidency from 1853-1857.
· 2001 – Because Andrew Johnson frequently enjoyed carriage rides to unwind after a stressful day, this ornament shows him and his family in a carriage being drawn by a white horse.
· 2014 – The only official White House ornament that is two pieces, this one commemorates Warren G. Harding (1921-1923). Harding dreamed of being a train engineer as a child and loved riding on the Presidential Special, the same train that brought his casket from San Francisco back to Washington when he suddenly passed away in 1923.
This year’s ornament honors Franklin D. Roosevelt, our thirty-second president. The four stars across the top of the ornament signify his four terms in office and the gold eagle featured on the front is fashioned after the one that adorned the speaker’s podium at his first inauguration.
If you decide to start collecting White House ornaments or want to create a collection for a loved one, be sure to invest in the right ones. Many different companies and organizations sell ornaments honoring the White House, but the official ones are designed only by the White House Historical Association. These ornaments are beautiful to hang on your tree, but are even more valuable if you have the original box they came in. Each ornament also comes with paperwork that explains the significance of the event or president depicted on it. In addition to selling the current year’s ornament, the WHHA also offers some from previous years, and they can also often be found through online auctions.
Whether you decide to hang them on the tree or treasure them as a family keepsake, White House ornaments can be a beautiful addition to your holiday season.