The House Tells the Story: Homes of the American Presidents

The House Tells the Story is an utter delight, as it opens windows
into the history of this country by showing how some this country's makers and shakers lived.
The Wall Street Journal

Gorgeous paintings and lucid historical commentary converge brilliantly in this collection of illustrated letters from watercolorist Van Doren (An Artist in Venice) to his collaborator, historian and Pulitzer-winning author David McCullough. Van Doren visited 15 presidential homes over three years, painting the residences and gaining insight into the former presidents’ private lives through their personal effects... A trained architect, Van Doren speaks knowingly of scale, harmony, and proportion. Franklin Roosevelt’s Hyde Park home is the first entry, and Van Doren emphasizes its accommodations for F.D.R.’s wheelchair, iconic convertible, and beloved dog, Fala. The much-visited Mount Vernon and Monticello are also included, with Van Doren noting his admiration for Thomas Jefferson as “a sort of American Leonardo da Vinci.” Warm, accessible, and harmonious, this book marries history with art for a uniquely American vision. Illus.
Publishers Weekly, starred review, July, 2015

The doors of 15 presidential homes are opened to readers of this book, an illustrated tour winding through history with stops at residences both stately and modest. Adam Van Doren’s watercolor paintings of such homes as George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate and the Kennedys’ Hyannis Port compound are displayed in full-page panoramas and handwritten,I llustrated letters that Van Doren sent to Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough when he visited each home.
Along with showcasing an array of architectural styles, “The House Tells the Story” includes narratives with telling details — such as the stains on the wallpaper of Harry Truman’s Independence, Mo., home where he used the wall to lift himself from his chair — that provide insight into the daily lives of these men. Also including a painted peek into the White House, brief biographies of all 50 presidents, a gallery with small illustrations of all their residences, and a forward by McCullough, this book does indeed tell a story, one that is architectural, political, and personal.
The Boston Globe

Van Doren masterfully combines his considerable artistic and literary talents to create an engaging and revealing portrait of the American presidents.
–Gay Talese, author of The Kingdom and the Power, Unto the Sons

If there’s still some open space on your coffee table, The House Tells the Story: Homes of the American Presidents should be on your shortlist. Artist Adam Van Doren paints and writes his way through the private dwellings of 15 US leaders, from Mount Vernon in Virginia to Prairie Chapel Ranch in Crawford, Texas – plus the White House, where all but the first president lived. The author’s paintings are the main attraction. They vary from full-page formal portraits to smaller casual compositions that illustrate his handwritten letters updating historian David McCullough on his presidential peregrination... This is a coffee-table book after all, and an accomplished, handsome, and even quite useful example of the genre, particularly if you are contemplating a heritage vacation.
The Christian Science Monitor