Welcome to the Texas White House, home to our 36th president Lyndon Baines Johnson and his family. According to the National Park Service, President Johnson “flew home to his ranch 74 times during his five years in office, living and working for 490 days, or about one-fourth of his presidency, at the Texas White House.”
The Johnsons donated the ranch to the National Park Service in 1972. After First Lady Ladybird Johnson’s death in 2007, the Park Service has been working to open the house to the public, with the first tours starting in 2008. When we visited, a new room had just opened that week!
One of my favorite parts of the tour was when my mom asked, “Are Lynda and Chuck still married?” in reference to Johnson daughter Lynda and her husband Chuck Robb. Granted we are from Virginia, and he was our senator, and we were in their family home, but are we really on a first name basis with these people?However, my mom says she remembers the Johnson daughters so well from when LBJ was in office, and she felt perfectly comfortable addressing them as if she knows them personally. (And, just FYI, the answer was “yes”).
You start the house tour in LBJ’s office. You can’t take photos inside, but the Park Service provided this photo on its website. Notice the picture of one of LBJ’s beagles (named “Him” and “Her”) on the wall. LBJ stirred up a bit of controversy when a photographer captured an image of the President picking up one of the dogs by its ears.
As you might expect, the house itself has a very ’60s feel, especially the kitchen. Apparently, LBJ liked to stay connected so he had a telephone installed underneath the dining room table.
We visited in late December, so we saw a Christmas tree and learned about Johnson family traditions. But look at the decorations on a tree outside! I had never seen anything like it – is this a Texas thing? Did the Johnsons do this or is it something recent?
I don’t know if the deer are normally mounted to the tree and they add the wreaths or if both the deer and the wreathes are special for the holidays. I e-mailed the Park Service, but I haven’t heard back. I will let you know if I get a reply. If you know about this, please leave a comment, I’d love to know.
This is part of what I love about Nerd Trips, the fun sights you’ll encounter and the unusual things you learn, particularly the personal side of people who have shaped our history.
You will take away something different from your visit, and I encourage you to go see the Texas White House for yourself!