Mystery of the White House Tiffany Screen

“The Grand Illumination” by Peter Waddell for the White House Historical Association, oil on canvas, 1891.

There is a rumor that the grand Tiffany & Co. screen that once greeted visitors at the White House was installed in The Belvedere Hotel. The origin of this rumor is unclear, however we do know that in 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt began renovations of the White House. We also know that the unwanted furnishings and relics were sold to the highest bidder. One clue that links the screen to Chesapeake Beach is from a 1903 newspaper article1. The article has a well-known Chesapeake Beach businessman, Turner A. Wickersham, purchasing cathedral glass doors from the White House lobby for $275.00 at a public auction presumably held by the White House. From here the trail goes cold. Were these glass doors the same as the grand Tiffany & Co. screen?  Were they transported to the beach along the Chesapeake Beach Railway? Were they installed in The Belvedere Hotel? Many theories and stories remain, but unfortunately, the answers may have forever gone up in smoke in 1923 when the hotel was completely destroyed by fire.

For more details, read the “Belvedere Mystery” article in our 2017 Spring Newsletter.

White House Relics Brought About $6000. The Morning Post, 22 Jan. 1903, p.6.