Here's what the fuss was about: the National Theater, saved from the wrecker's ball last week when the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation decided to approve a building plan that will keep the theater intact.

"Hello Dolly" is the present offering on E. Street. in the 1.680-sent theater constructed in 1912. Four different structures preceded the present one one its site since the original opening might of 1835.

The Nationals attractions over the years, according to one historian, "constitute an accurate index of much that was best and most significant in American theater. The National has also provided a sort of political continuity as well: Last week, for example, President Carter joined a packed house to see Carol Channing's "Dolly" - a play that President Johnson caught there when it was trying out late in 1963.

The theater's presidential bares were not really popular with presidential parties. Looking up at one from now E years after she left the White House. Edith Bolling Wilson murmured: That God. we're met setting up there. The roll of the drums was simply deafening, the sightliness so wrong. But, oh, how the president loved coming here?" Confined to his wheelchair. Franklin Rooserceit would be carried up to the back unseen by the audience, which would cheer as soon as he made his upright appearance.

Successor Henry S. Truman prejerred she orchestra floor, would pay cash for three tickets: his. Mrs. Truman's, and their single Secret Service man.

The auditorum got a new look before the opening of "Annie" last spring, when the theater's board of directors spent $300,000 is profits from recent rewanding seasons to refurbish it. The interior is now a deep red with brass accents and fewer rococo details, replacing the light pellour taxes created for the theater's 1952 reopening (it had closed in 1943 during a precoders-satting dispute over a discrimination policy).

The recent renovation included total re-flooring of the stage and substitution of the once enormous backstage lightboard with one the size of a cigar box.

In its new fixture, the theater will remain in operation while a hotel, shops and offices are built ground it under the PADC-approved quadrangle-Marriott plan. And re-routing of Pennsylvania Avenue for creation of National Square will even give the theater a Pennsylvania Avenue address.