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The People’s Dollhouse

June 2024
1min read

The White House in Miniature

by Gau Ruckland, photographs by Kathleen Culbert-Aguilar, W. W. Norton, 203 pages

John and Jan Zweifel’s twenty-by-sixty-foot model of the President’s house has charmed more than forty million Americans on its travels around the country, and it makes a weirdly absorbing subject for a coffee table book. There is somethin hypnotic about the Zweifels’ tiny halls of power, a convincing enough national symbol that Dutch terrorists attacked it with axes and pair when the exhibit visited Holland in 1982.

Gerald Ford made the Zweifels’ dream possible by allowing the couple inside to measure White House rooms in 1975, and since then they have kept up with every decorating change. One section of the book shows nine scale versions of the Oval Office, containing Abraham Lincoln’s case of worn books, Lyndon Johnson’s three televisions for simultaneous news broadcasts, and Richard Nixon’s matching yellow drapes and armchairs. The White House library is fully stocked; the state rooms’ wood floors gleam or bear woven Oriental rugs the size of .45 records. The grounds have posted guards and bubbling fountains and a Rose Garden with garnish-size shrubbery. In case the pictures in this terrific book make you want to see the actual model, its permanent home is at the House of Presidents in Clermont, Florida.

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