Lead: When refined and elegant Vice-President Chester Arthur became president after James Garfield’s assassination in 1881, the White House was such a mess, he refused to move in.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Although Americans regard the White House as an elegant and stately mansion and a symbol of democracy, by 1881 the house was a mess. In such a state of neglect that Chester Arthur, also known as “Elegant Arthur” for his fine tastes in food, clothing and décor, refused to move into the barn. He considered to be dark, dreary and distasteful, with decaying septic pipes, rotten wood, and a crumbling basement. He declared that unless the “shabby” house need to be cleaned out and renovated. If Congress would not appropriate the funds, “I will have it done and pay for it out of my own pocket.”

 

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