“While some members of Congress and the American public questioned the President’s spending of public funds, Monroe’s reputation as a national hero quieted most of these critics,” according to the association. Monroe had previously served as a diplomat in France and had taken a shine to French décor.
This fall, that same suite of furniture is returning to the Blue Room after a painstaking restoration that took more than 10 years, a team of curators and experts and nearly half a million dollars.
“It is my honor to announce the completion of the first phase of this important and historic project,” first lady Melania Trump said in a statement. “Thank you to the many experts, curators, and White House staff who helped repair the beautiful Bellangé suite. I look forward to placing the restored pieces back in the Blue Room so people on the public tour of the White House will be able to enjoy them.”
The Bellangé suite has had a long and storied history.
A century later, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, who sought to preserve and restore the history of the White House, began the process of reacquiring pieces of the Bellangé suite.
Over the years, the aging, historic furniture was approaching “deteriorating condition.” The restoration process began during the George W. Bush administration in 2005 when White House curators “began to study how to restore the suite to its original appearance,” according to the association, which paid for the restoration.
Before the project could proceed, plans were submitted to the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, which was created by an executive order in 1964 and works with the historical association and Executive Residence staff, for approval.
The White House Historical Association said it has “invested more than $450,000 in the restoration of the Bellangé suite since 2013,” or a little more than the cost, adjusted for inflation, of the original purchase two centuries ago.
CNN’s Kate Bennett contributed to this report.