Santa Paula Times

2004 White House ornament sets a nostalgic holiday scene

September 22, 2004
Santa Paula News
The 2004 White House Christmas ornament honoring the presidency of Rutherford B. Hayes recreates a snowy scene of a sleigh in winter on the North Lawn of the White House. President Hayes loved the winter season and enjoyed taking his family and guests for sleigh rides on the grounds and in the hills around Washington. Laughter, mingled with the jingling of sleigh bells filling the air, sets the tone of this nostalgic holiday vignette. The ornament, the 24th in a series started by the White House Historical Association in 1981, sets a festive holiday scene within an oval niche surrounded by a 24 kt. gold finish brass frame. The reverse shimmers with snowflakes against an enameled royal blue sky. “The White House Christmas celebrations during the Hayes administration were not grand state affairs but family-centered events with friends and staff. The first family always celebrated the holiday season with everyone who worked at the White House, giving secretaries, clerks, doorkeepers and other staff members a present and card from the family,” said Neil W. Horstman, president of the White House Historical Association.Rutherford B. Hayes, the 19th president of the United States (1877-1881), came to office after one of the most controversial elections in American history. He was sworn in as president amidst threats of violence that caused President Ulysses S. Grant to arrange for a secret oath taking in the Red Room of the White House. He repeated the oath in a public ceremony at the U.S. Capitol the following day. President Hayes pledged to serve only one term in office and proved to be a competent and honest executive. His administration ended the military occupation of the South; instituted a fiscal policy to end the Panic of 1873; and started civil service reform.The Hayes family circle at the White House included the president and his wife and five children ages 8 to 24 years. The Hayeses formed a large and boisterous household, and the holiday season was filled with cheer and merrymaking. Determined to conform entertaining to society’s new moral ideals following the Panic of 1873, President Hayes eliminated wine from the presidential table. The banishing of alcohol from the White House earned First Lady Lucy Webb Hayes the nickname of “Lemonade Lucy” and received enthusiastic public approval. Unfairly, Mrs. Hayes has been remembered more for her husband’s decision than her importance as his influential partner. She was the first wife of a president to graduate from college and advocated women’s education and intellectual equality. Fond of children, she invited Washington children to roll their Easter eggs on the White House lawn after they had been banned from the Capitol grounds, establishing the White House Easter egg rolling in 1878 that remains a popular public event to this day.President and Mrs. Hayes were ardent collectors of antiques and emphasized the history of the house, especially in the public staterooms. They initiated the first significant art collecting at the White House by acquiring portraits of the presidents and first ladies. Mrs. Hayes’s special interest in portraits of first ladies is responsible for producing the large painting of Martha Washington which hangs in the East Room as a companion to the Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington.Of the previous White House ornaments, 17 honor presidents, starting with George Washington. The 1989 ornament pays tribute to the bicentennial of the American presidency while the bicentennial of the White House as home of the president was commemorated in 2000. The 2002 ornament honored the centennial of restoration of the White House and the building of the West Wing.
The cost of the ornament is $16 plus packing and delivery and it can be ordered from the White House Historical Association, P.O. Box 96586, Washington, D.C. 20090-6586, or you may call toll free 1-800-555-2451, or visit online at Each of the 23 ornaments (from 1981 to 2003) is also available, along with educational brochures.The White House Historical Association was established in 1961 as a non-profit organization to enhance the understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of the White House. All proceeds from its trusts and sales of ornaments, publications and other association products are used to fund acquisitions of historic furnishings and art work for the permanent White House collection, assist in the preservation of the public rooms, and further its educational mission.