Lou Henry Hoover

Found: The Earliest Color Footage of the White House

Two years ago, an archivist at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum was looking through the collection’s film reels, when she came across a series of films labeled “Kodacolor.” As the Washington Post reports, the films look black and white, but they had unusual lines on their frames. After the archivist, Lynn Smith, did some research, she realized that these were color films, that need a special filter to show their full potential.

Now, the library has had those reels preserved and digitized. The result: it’s now possible to view what may be the first color footage of the White House ever taken.

The films were shot by First Lady Lou Hoover. Her husband’s often thought of as a stuffy technocrat who failed to stop the…

The Fire That Destroyed the West Wing on Christmas Eve

On December 24, 1929, all was not calm at the White House—though it certainly was bright.

President and First Lady Herbert and Lou Hoover were hosting a Christmas party for children of White House staffers when White House Chief Usher Ike Hoover (no relation) delivered a quiet message to the president: The West Wing was ablaze.

Library of Congress

Hoover immediately grabbed his son and members of his Cabinet and led them to the executive office, where they crawled through a window and began hauling out steel cabinets full of important files. Hoover’s secretaries grabbed his desk drawers while Secret Service agents saved the desk chair and the presidential flag.

With the critical documents and important politicians out of the way, firefighters broke the skylight and chopped holes in the roof to let…