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Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House on Establishing a Commission on the Renovation of the White House.

March 25, 1949

Dear Mr.___________:

On February 16, 1949, I addressed a communication to the Congress further advising the Congress of the critical structural conditions in the executive mansion and transmitting an estimate of appropriation for the renovation and modernization of the building.

I have given much thought to the interest of the Nation in the maximum retention of the architectural and historic features of the executive mansion and to the accompanying problems which must be faced in a renovation project of this magnitude and importance. I feel sure that the people of this country expect this major undertaking to be accomplished by the best qualified architects, engineers and craftsmen available and that adequate authority will be granted by the Congress to the individuals who are made responsible for the satisfactory performance of the work.

With this thought in mind I consider it appropriate that the Congress should establish a Commission which would exercise general supervision and direction of all construction work involved in the renovation and modernization of the mansion, including the approval of plans and the selection of contractors.

In the past the Congress has established commissions to select sites, procure plans and exercise general supervision for the construction of our national shrines, as in the case of the memorials for Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. The scope and character of the work proposed in this case, and the objectives which always must be kept in mind in the renovation of the executive mansion, will impose a great responsibility on a commission appointed for this work.

I trust, therefore, that at the earliest possible date the Congress will enact legislation to establish a commission for the purposes indicated.

Very sincerely yours,


Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to the Honorable Alben W. Barkley, President of the Senate, and to the Honorable Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

On April 14, 1949, the President approved a bill "to provide for a Commission on Renovation of the Executive Mansion" (63 Stat. 45).

For the President's letter of February 16, see Item 31.

Harry S Truman, Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House on Establishing a Commission on the Renovation of the White House. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230047

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