Stewart McLaurin, a 1981 graduate of The University of Alabama Department of History and current president of the White House Historical Association (WHHA), returned to campus on March 1st to speak to a packed audience as part of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute‘s lifelong learning lecture series.
His lecture, titled “The White House Historical Association and Five Chapters of White House History,” traced the history of the United States’ Executive Mansion from President George Washington’s selection of the site in 1791 through First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s decision to found the White House Historical Association in 1961.
In the hour-long talk, McLaurin not only highlighted developments the White House experienced under the presidencies of Washington, Madison, Theodore Roosevelt, Truman, and Kennedy but also emphasized the role enslaved people played in the building of the Executive Mansion. Additionally, audience members learned the story of White House architect James Hoban’s journey from Dublin to designing the president’s house.
Prior to leading the WHHA, McLaurin had stops as an assistant to the US Secretary of Energy, Chief of Staff of the American Red Cross, Executive VP of the Motion Picture Association of America, Executive Director of the Ronald Reagan Centennial Celebration for the Reagan Presidential Library, VP of Mount Vernon’s Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, and as Executive Vice President of the American Village Citizenship Trust. He hosts the WHHA’s 1600 Sessions podcast, exploring the history of the building itself as well as the people who have lived and worked there for more than two centuries.