The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House

The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House

Kate Andersen Brower

Language: English

Pages: 336

ISBN: 0062305204

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A remarkable history with elements of both In the President’s Secret Service and The Butler, The Residence offers an intimate account of the service staff of the White House, from the Kennedys to the Obamas.

America’s First Families are unknowable in many ways. No one has insight into their true character like the people who serve their meals and make their beds every day. Full of stories and details by turns dramatic, humorous, and heartwarming, The Residence reveals daily life in the White House as it is really lived through the voices of the maids, butlers, cooks, florists, doormen, engineers, and others who tend to the needs of the President and First Family.

These dedicated professionals maintain the six-floor mansion’s 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 28 fireplaces, three elevators, and eight staircases, and prepare everything from hors d’oeuvres for intimate gatherings to meals served at elaborate state dinners. Over the course of the day, they gather in the lower level’s basement kitchen to share stories, trade secrets, forge lifelong friendships, and sometimes even fall in love.

Combining incredible first-person anecdotes from extensive interviews with scores of White House staff members—many speaking for the first time—with archival research, Kate Andersen Brower tells their story. She reveals the intimacy between the First Family and the people who serve them, as well as tension that has shaken the staff over the decades. From the housekeeper and engineer who fell in love while serving President Reagan to Jackie Kennedy’s private moment of grief with a beloved staffer after her husband’s assassination to the tumultuous days surrounding President Nixon’s resignation and President Clinton’s impeachment battle, The Residence is full of surprising and moving details that illuminate day-to-day life at the White House.

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inauguration. They didn’t want to miss a minute that the house was still under their temporary ownership. “The fun of that night left them so tired that when Barbara, Jenna, and I glanced over at Bill during George’s inaugural address, he was dozing,” Laura Bush recalled. President Clinton confessed to the Bushes on the morning of the inauguration that he had put off packing for so long that, right at the end, “he was packing simply by pulling out drawers and dumping their contents into boxes.”

families themselves. “They don’t tell about the presidents that lived there before you or anything about their family, which we admired and respected because, of course, we wanted them to treat us the same when we left.” The kinds of memories of everyday life that are treasured by most families are especially dear to the first families, who have often invited residence workers to join them on their downtime. Laura Bush says that her husband and Butler Ron Guy shared a love for fishing. “Any time

Hamilton, but he agreed that working with Mrs. Clinton in those difficult months was a challenge. “It was just so overwhelming for her and if you said something to her she’d snap,” Hamilton recalled, shaking his head. Still, he says that he loved working for the Clintons, and although he retired in 2013, he sometimes wishes he had stayed at the White House, knowing that Hillary Clinton might one day return as America’s first female president. He says he would love to work for her again, even

example, if the president’s shoes need to be resoled, a valet alerts a member of the Housekeeping Shop. When the president goes to the Oval Office in the morning, a valet stands close by in case he needs anything, including a cup of coffee, breakfast, or just a cough drop. When the president travels, a valet packs for him and often rides in a backup vehicle in the motorcade, carrying a spare shirt or tie in case the commander in chief spills something and needs a quick change of clothes. On the

certainly experienced racism outside the White House, the singer recalled, he never felt it when he performed there. Williams says that performing in front of President Obama was a special honor: “We never would have imagined—in our lifetime anyways—[that we would] see a black man be president.” For Jeffries, having the Obamas in the White House makes him want to keep working: “That just makes me feel like, ‘Okay, I’ll go to work as often as I can.’” CHAPTER VIII Backstairs Gossip and

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