Friends in High Places

President Bush, shown here with Diane Sawyer, walks along the West Colonnade, now under renovation.
President Bush, shown here with Diane Sawyer, walks along the West Colonnade, now under renovation. (White House Photo By Paul Morse)

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Like a lot of vacationers, George and Laura Bush are having a little work done on the house while they're away this summer.

While the first family kicks back in Crawford, the Reagan-era walnut and oak floor in the Oval Office is being ripped out and replaced because frequent refinishing of the high-traffic space had worn it down to a thin veneer. According to Susan Whitson, Laura Bush's press secretary, everything in the room will be put back where it was. "Hopefully the president will walk right back into the Oval Office and not notice much of a difference, except that the floors are thicker," she said.

Other August White House projects include restoration of the masonry and stucco in the West Colonnade, which leads from the main residence to the West Wing. But before the president left for his ranch, he asked whether the work would disturb the mother cliff swallow and her three babies who have made a home at the top of one of the columns.

"He wanted to make sure the birds would still be there when he got back," says Whitson. To protect the little family, White House carpenters built a box around the mud-and-sticks nest on a column that will remain untouched until the birds are big enough to fly away.

Jura Koncius


© 2005 The Washington Post Company

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