The White House arrives at the Waldorf.
For most of the 20th century, the Waldorf Astoria hotel was the presidential residence away from home in New York City. Since opening in 1931 on Park Avenue, the property has hosted every U.S. president, from Herbert Hoover to Barack Obama, most as guests and a handful as long-term tenants.
Now the hotel – which is in the midst of a radical residential conversion dubbed the Waldorf Astoria towers – is partnering with the White House Historical Association, a nonprofit founded by the first lady and frequent guest of the Waldorf Astoria. Jacqueline Kennedy in 1961 to preserve the White House history.
The association will create a presidential library in the multi-storey building which will open its doors next summer.
Exclusively for the enjoyment of condo owners, the irony here is that this is a perk that hotel-staying presidents won’t be able to take advantage of — at least, not technically.
Like the rest of the 50,000 square feet of private residential amenities, the beautiful library room is designed by the famous Jean-Louis Deniot.
Overlooking 49th Street and the Chrysler Building, the space has gray and cream tones with gold finishes. A circular gray and cream marble table and a long gray sofa are the centerpiece of the room while bookshelves run along the walls.
The five-seat backlit granite bar framed by a geometric moving chandelier is a key feature – but first, for the tomes.
Stewart McLaurin, president of the White House Historical Association, said the collection will include more than 500 books and will be continually updated with new titles.
“We are not going to be supporters of just one president and we will represent them all,” he said. “We will also have the inventory of our group’s books that we have published over the years”
The latter includes “Designing Camelot: The Kennedy White House Restoration,” detailing the First Lady’s renovation of the White House from 1961 to 1963, and readings dedicated to the famous mansion’s wine, china, and music.
Other parts of the collection will contain biographies of presidents and first ladies from George and Martha Washington to Joe and Jill Biden and stories during their time in office.
“Washington’s Iron Butterfly” is an example. Written by Bess Clements Abell, the social secretary under the Johnson administration, it talks about the state dinners and other glamorous parties she threw. “Forty-two Years in the White House” – written by Ike Hoover, the White House Chief Usher for the aforementioned period – will also be included.
Beyond the books, McLaurin says the library will serve as a mini-museum, with exhibits such as replicas of the china used in the White House and bookends that replicate architectural elements from its exterior.
What’s a good read without a cocktail or a glass of wine in hand? To that end, the aforementioned bar will serve drinks that the presidents have had while in office. The lineup will include Bloody Marys, favored by John F. Kennedy, French wine, a staple for Thomas Jefferson, and mint juleps, a staple for Teddy Roosevelt. Sobers can order a Diet Coke, a favorite of both George W. Bush and Donald J. Trump.
The library will be among the many attractive amenities offered in the Waldorf Astoria towers – an 82-foot swimming pool in the former Starlight Roof ballroom, a conservatory with a bar and a theater will be a stage for entertainment among the group .
Dan Tubb, the property’s senior sales manager, explains that the purpose of the library is to honor the history of presidents who have stayed at the Waldorf.
“Many of our buyers even have fond memories of interacting with them while they were at the hotel as well,” he said. “The library is meant to be rich and dramatic – much like the Waldorf’s past itself.”