White House

Estate Sale Features Items Kept by Longest-Serving White House Gardener

Irvin Williams left his mark on American history, serving as superintendent of the White House grounds for nearly five decades and under nine presidents

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Here’s your chance to buy a piece of American history. This weekend, an estate sale will offer items owned by the White House's longest-serving gardener.

For nearly five decades, Irvin Williams was superintendent of the White House grounds, serving under nine presidents. During that time, Williams oversaw the creation of the White House's rose garden. His own garden at his home in Herndon, Virginia, was also impressive.

Williams retired in 2008 and died in 2018. Now, many items will be going up for auction, including statues and impressive Christmas tree ornaments that may or may not be from the White House. But there’s plenty there that definitely came from the White House. As first reported by John Kelly in the Washington Post, one of the more interesting items is a bag of tennis balls thrown over the White House fence during an abortion demonstration in 1992. Each ball bore a hand-written message.

"This is referred to as protest balls," said Terry Kern with Caring Transitions of Northern Virginia.

Kern is organizing the sale.

"Posters, pictures, programs, framed programs that are signed; you’re going to find a lot of that kind of stuff here in the house," Kern said.

Other items include a box filled with wooden Easter eggs from past White House Easter Egg Roll events, presidential letters, White House cufflinks and tie clips, a White House coffee tin, and even presidential match books. And what would a White House estate sale be without a presidential seal?

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And tucked away in one of the many boxes of paperwork that Williams saved for more than 50 years: a 1968 press release in perfect condition, touting the prototype for the very first Metrorail car.

The estate sale is set for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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