Promenade in 1996, looking southwest (Clinton Library)

The Promenade

Before the construction of a proper third floor in 1927, this was simply part of the roof. Early in the 20th century a simple "sleeping porch" was built here in the space now occupied by the Solarium. The Promenade has since become something like a patio for first families. President Eisenhower like to grill on the Promenade. His preferred method was to grill salt-encrusted steaks right on the coals.

The Promenade is surrounded by a high and heavy balustrade that shields it from wind and from view. The Promenade sits about 3 feet higher than the third floor itself, except for the Solarium, which is at the same level as the Promenade.

Adapted from America's First Families: Chapter 3, A Home Within a Symbol:

Just outside the Solarium and around the roof's perimeter is a promenade, hidden from public view, where Mrs. Clinton raised cherry tomato plants. This is where Eisenhower turned his steaks and burgers on a fifties barbecue grill, and Susan Ford brought her cat Shan out to play. In the evenings, the Carter sons used a telescope to identify stars, while during the day, the family suntanned here. A century earlier Jesse Grant had used a smaller roof nook for his telescope. When Theodore Roosevelt prohibited his daughter Alice from smoking her cigarettes "under this roof," this is where she climbed to obey him -- to smoke on the roof.

More Images

Promenade around the Solarium in 1987 (Dept of Defense)

Promenade around the north side in 1987, looking south (Dept of Defense)

Jack Ford having a cigarette on the promenade in 1976 (Rolling Stone)

Ike cooking chicken, around 1955 (Eisenhower Library)

Ike grilling outside the Sun Room (Eisenhower Library)

Promenade outside the new Sun Room in 1952 (Truman Library)

Southwest corner after the raising of the corners of the roof, 1952 (Truman Library)

Southwest corner before the raising of the corners of the roof, 1950 (Truman Library)

Promenade before the renovation of the Sun Room, circa 1950 (Truman Library)

Third floor exterior in 1945 (Life - George Skadding)

Promenade area in 1923 (Library of Congress - Herbert A French)

The Sleeping Porch on the roof, circa 1920, before the construction of a full third floor
(the structure in the foreground is an "automatic fire escape") (Library of Congress)