The large Entrance Hall and Cross Hall formed part of James Hoban's original plans for the White House. The basic design has not been altered, although modifications have been made during various renovations. During the 19th century two principal stairways led to the second floor. The broad staircase at the west end of the Cross Hall was removed in 1902 to increase the size of the State Dining Room. At the same time, the remaining stairway, opening into the Cross Hall, was enlarged. During the 1948-52 renovation, this stairway was repositioned to open into the Entrance Hall.
The Cross Hall, with marble walls and floors added during the Truman renovation, is lighted by two Adam-style cut-glass chandeliers made in London about 1790. The bronze light standards date from the Roosevelt renovation of 1902 as does the design of the decorative plaster ceiling. An Italian settee with an eagle decoration stands beneath the 1967 portrait of Dwight Eisenhower by J. Anthony Wills.
Other Presidential portraits hang at the east end of the Cross Hall: Lyndon Johnson by Elizabeth Shoumatoff, Gerald Ford by Everett Raymond Kinstler, and Jimmy Carter by Herbert E. Abrams. A portrait of President John Kennedy painted by Aaron Shikler hangs at the west end of the hall.
The Entrance Hall is seen by visitors as they leave the White House. It is set off from the Cross Hall by the Hoban-designed colonnade and is decorated in the same style. Its furnishings include a French pier table purchased by Monroe in 1817 and a pair of French settees with carved mahogany swans' heads. A suite of early 19th-century Italian gilded furniture in the Empire style was placed in the halls in 1973. Frank O. Salisbury's portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt hangs in the Entrance Hall, as does Martha Greta Kempton's painting of Harry Truman.
The Grand Staircase is often used on ceremonial occasions. Before state dinners, the President greets his guests of honor in the Yellow Oval Room; then they descend the stairs to the East Room where the other guests are gathered. Along the stairway hang portraits of 20th century Presidents, including Ronald Reagan by Everett Raymond Kinstler, Richard Nixon by J. Anthony Wills, Herbert Hoover by Elmer W. Greene, and Warren Harding by F. Luis Mora; a portrait of Mrs. William Howard Taft by Bror Kronstrand is also in the stairway. Above the American pier table on the landing is F. Graham Cootes' painting of Woodrow Wilson. An English cut-glass chandelier from the mid-19th century lights the stairway at the first landing.
The Center and Cross Halls also serves as the Visitor's exit for the White House Tour. Here visitors exit the main doors of the North Entrance to the White House.
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