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The stately grounds of the White House have served as an impressive stage for everything from elegant weddings and royal receptions to Easter egg hunts and President Eisenhower’s personal putting green. Today, after more than 200 years as the site of those events, that backdrop of history comes to the fore with The White House Garden, an exhibition developed and supported by the White House Historical Association and organized for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES).

The exhibition is on display through Sept. 16 in the Manderino Library Educational Resource Center at California University of Pennsylvania. The resource center is adjacent to the Manderino Gallery, where the SITES exhibition Singgalot (The Ties That Bind) also is on display, through July 19.

Since the 1790s, presidents, first families, renowned landscape architects and countless other Americans have contributed to the development of the formal gardens and parkland surrounding the “people’s house,” shaping the land into an extraordinary, one-of-a-kind national touchstone and treasure and the oldest continuously landscaped garden in the United States.

The White House Garden paints a botanical and historical portrait through a series of thematic sections that highlight three gardens in particular: the Rose Garden, the East Garden (the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden) and the Children’s Garden. Key to the development, design and evolution of the gardens are some of the biggest figures in American landscape design, including Andrew Jackson Downing, Beatrix Farrand and Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. They built upon a canvas first envisioned by famed city planner Pierre L’Enfant, who set aside 82 acres for a President’s Park in 1792.

The exhibit features Thomas Jefferson, designer of the area’s first landscape plans; John Quincy Adams, who worked in the garden alongside White House gardener John Ousley; Theodore Roosevelt, who reluctantly allowed his architects to demolish his cherished conservatory; John F. Kennedy, who made the private Rose Garden near the Oval Office into an outdoor meeting place that accommodates a 1,000 spectators; and Harry S. Truman and George H.W. Bush, both of whom enjoyed a lively game of horseshoes.

About the Collaborator   

The White House Historical Association, established in 1961, is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to enhance the understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of the White House. All proceeds from the association’s trusts, publications and other items are used to fund acquisitions of historic furnishings and artwork for the permanent collection, assist in the preservation of the public rooms, and further its educational mission. For more information visit


SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 50 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play.

See the Exhibition at Cal U

The White House Garden is on display in the Manderino Library Educational Resource Center, adjacent to the Manderino Gallery. To discuss group tours or field trips, call exhibitions coordinator Walter Czekaj at 724-938-5244 or send e-mail to