The first 27 presidents set White House tables with porcelain made in France, England and China. Much of it was decorated with eagles, flowers, even wild fowl and big game, within gilt-edged borders of white, blue, purple, green or fuchsia.
In 1917, however, Woodrow Wilson's wife, Edith, decided American china was fine enough for state dinners and commissioned a simple ivory-and-gold pattern for the White House from Lenox in Trenton, N.J. She also created a room in the White House to display porcelain from George Washington's day onward.
To mark the 90th anniversary of her tabletop initiative, more than 130 pieces duplicating that White House display are on view at the Woodrow Wilson House, two miles north of the executive mansion. The Wilsons lived in the townhome after he left office. It is now a presidential museum.
The collection, including pieces from the presidencies of Wilson, Washington, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson and Teddy Roosevelt, is on loan from Set Charles Momjian and his wife, Joan, of Philadelphia. Momjian said he began acquiring White House china from presidential heirs and other sources in the 1950s, when "no one was collecting it." He hasn't stopped since.
For information on the exhibit, call (202) 387-4062 or visit .
Dinner with the president and first lady