O, FOR HISTORY: The White House Security Gates of Fremont

In Fremont Ohio at the former home of the oldest son of Rutherford B. Hayes and that is now the Presidential Library of R. B. Hayes, are the former gates used to protect the White House in Washington DC since the time when Ulysses S. Grant was president until 1921. In 1921 the gates around the White House had to be replaced when automobiles were becoming more popular around the country. The reason the gates had to be replaced is that they were too small.

When originally installed, horse & buggies were the norm. With the automobile, those old gates just didn’t work, so Hayes son, Col. Webb C. Hayes petitioned then president Warren G. Harding to use the gates at the new library. Harding agreed, but in Washington DC, nothing is ever that simple. Congress had to approve the transfer of ownership which took Col. Hayes 6 years of dealing with Washington red tape before he gained possession. Today those 5 iron White House gates surround the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center. The gate at top is located on the north entrance to Spiegel Grove. The close up at left is the main entrance to the estate and shows the Presidential Eagle, while the other gate depicts the Presidential Shield.

Rutherford Hayes was also the first president to use the Presidential Insignia and it was under his direction that this seal was created. It is strikingly different from the Seal of the United States’ eagle which had the eagle’s head pointed left as seen by the viewer. The Presidential Eagle’s head pointed right, and remained this way until President Truman implemented a re-design of the Presidential Eagle by turning the eagle’s head to the left as seen by a viewer. 

What does all the left and right pointing signify? Not much. Tradition called for heraldic eagles to point to the left. Some myths have grown up that because the eagle contained arrows clutched in it’s left talons, the big bird was looking towards war, instead of peace signified by the olive branch held in its right talon. More likely it was Hayes’ wish to distinguish the White House as being a different segment of the federal government.

This article, along with several other fascinating tidbits about Ohio, can be found in this article: http://touringohio.com/trivia/more-ohio-trivia.html

About Wright Flyer Guy

Darin is a single adoptive father, a teacher, playwright, and musical theatre director from Kettering, Ohio.
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