Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

The Truman Balcony Letters

President Truman's response to a letter from Gilmore Clarke, Chairman of the Commission of Fine Arts, November 1947.

My understanding was when the matter was discussed with you with regard to the arrangement on the south portico that when Mr. Delano made up his mind, the situation would be satisfactory to you. Now you confess that you hoped he would make up his mind in a manner that you approved of and that you didn't enter into the matter at all with an open mind - that is a great statement for the Chairman of the Commission of Fine Arts to send to the President. I can't understand your viewpoint when those dirty awnings are a perfect eyesore with regard to that south portico. I have had them painted; I have had them washed and they have been renewed every year and still they look like hell when they are on the porch. Of course, I wouldn't expect you to take into consideration the comfort and convenience of the Presidential family in this arrangement . . . . I certainly would like to have your reasons for preferring the dirty awnings to the good looking convenient portico and then maybe I'll come to a conclusion on the subject. I don't make up my mind in advance. However, I'll have to be convinced.