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Dean's Corner

Dean's Corner – The President’s House Crystal by Morgantown

In 1961, the Morgantown Glass company (of West Virginia) gained national recognition when first lady Jackie Kennedy chose a simple Morgantown glassware pattern as the official crystal service for the White House. After receiving this recognition, Morgantown marketed this pattern as The President’s House stemware.

The 1960 presidential campaign pitted John F. Kennedy against Hubert Humphrey. While the vote in West Virginia was small, its influence in the Electoral College was significant, and both candidates spent a great deal of time campaigning in the Mountain State. West Virginia's votes in the Electoral College were deemed a significant factor in Kennedy’s eventual victory in the race.

After winning the election, President and Mrs. Kennedy moved into the White House on January 20, 1961. Mrs. Kennedy, as is well known now, had a strong sense of style, and undertook to update the decor of the White House. The crystal used in the White House had long been either European or influenced by European design, but the First Lady championed "buy American." When Mrs. Kennedy saw the crystal in use at their favorite hotel, The Carlton in New York City, she asked about its origins. She learned it was made in Morgantown, West Virginia, and had an inquiry sent to Morgantown Glass about pieces available. Morgantown immediately sent samples of the crystal pattern to Pennsylvania Avenue. The service met Mrs. Kennedy's approval, and an order was placed for fifty dozen of each item: white wine glasses, water goblets, red wine glasses, toasting or champagne glasses, and finger bowls.

The forms of this pattern were originally produced and marketed as "‘Winelovers’ Glassware by Julian Street," but after the First Lady’s order, Morgantown decided to re-christen the pattern as “The President's House.” This newly-named pattern was widely and successfully sold by Morgantown for many years. Within the White House the service was in use in the State Dining Room and was used for many years.

With the unexpected death of President Kennedy shocking the world, the era of Camelot ended. When Mrs. Kennedy moved out of the White House, the Hayden family (then owners of Morgantown Glass), gifted to her a personal service of the crystal she had helped make so famous. In a letter to the Hayden's dated February 12, 1964, Mrs. Kennedy wrote:

"I do wish to thank you for the beautiful Morgantown Glass, "The President's House," which you so graciously gave to me for our new house on N Street. I was happy to see that you had put the label, "The President's House" on the glassware. We were so proud when we first came to The White House to find, made in America, something so beautiful it could not be matched anywhere – and, coming from our beloved West Virginia, which really did make it possible for my husband to be President. It was a joy and a pride to use them in The White House, and it made me happy to think of other people being able to buy the same fine things we used in The President's House. I am sure they will go on being used there forever; I know I shall always use mine. And, whenever I see them, I will think of those brief wonderful days, all the official dinners and brilliant toasts my husband made so well when, as President, he used them in the President's House.“

Today, decades later, the same handmade, elegant crystal is still available, as the First Lady said, for "other people …to buy the same fine things we used in The President's House."

Morgantown Glass closed in 1971 but, Replacements, Ltd carries a wide selection of Morgantown glassware, including The President’s House – be sure to take a look at our selection.


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