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The White House has long served not only as our president’s home but also as the most enduring symbol of our nation’s capital and of American democracy itself.  Every year, over one million visitors to Washington, DC, tour this stately mansion, marveling at the history contained within its walls and the grandeur displayed in every room.  Yet while the White House remains one of the country’s most popular tourist spots, most Americans will never have the opportunity to visit and experience the thrill of history in the making.

John and Jan Zweifel’s White House replica, hailed by presidents, first ladies, and the general public as a masterpiece in the art of miniature, has brilliantly overcome this dilemma by allowing millions of people a privileged peek into the rooms and grounds of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  The model is a faithful recreation of the White House in a one-foot-to-one-inch scale – an amazing replica that shows the viewer much more of the White House than most people will ever be able to see in any other manner. 

Using photographs, published drawings, and memories from frequent public tours, John Zweifel and his family have labored since 1962 to ensure that their replica is an exact miniaturized copy of the original, and the result is truly a wonder to behold.  From the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden to the Lincoln Bedroom to the Oval Office, the White House in Miniature impresses the viewer on two levels:  once for the beauty of the White House itself and again for the richness of detail that the Zweifels have so faithfully and lovingly captured.  Tiny, working televisions, hand-carved chairs and tables, crystal chandeliers, portraits exactly like those that grace the White House’s walls, and miniature carpets that reproduce the originals stitch by stitch – every detail exhibits a craftsmanship of exceptional quality, as well as a reverential recognition of the White House’s unique charm and all that the White House represents.

Considered to be one of the world’s greatest miniature houses, the Zweifels’ gift to the nation is the result of several hundred thousand hours of research and construction, at a personal investment of over a million dollars.  Thousands of volunteers and craftspeople gave enthusiastically of their time and effort to help make John Zweifel’s vision a reality.  After touring all fifty states, where it was seen by over 42 million Americans, the replica was exhibited in 1992 and 1993 at the Smithsonian Institution and the Kennedy and Reagan libraries.  The Zweifels’ long and triumphant quest to bring the White House “to the people” will never really end.  There are always rooms to change, details to perfect, and more people to expose to the magical creation that is the White House in Miniature.

Photos by Kathleen Culbert-Aguilar, and caption information from the book by Gail Buckland, The White House in Miniature (W.W.Norton & Co., 1994).


library
dip hall
treaty room
ford oval office
patio
President's bedroom
main hall
theater
The Library

Diplomatic
Reception

The Treaty
Room
Ford's Oval
Office
The Patio President's
Bedroom
The Main Hall The Theater

white house model