Inaugural Balls at the National Building Museum

National Building Museum

The first inaugural ball at the Pension Building was held by Grover Cleveland in 1885. The building was still under construction and lacked a roof or floor. Construction resumed after the 1885 ball.

Construction of the Pension Building (1884).

Grover Cleveland was the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms, first in 1885 and again later in 1893. Image of preparing for the inauguration construction activities (1885).

The first inaugural ball at the Pension Building was held by Grover Cleveland in 1885. The tradition continues to the present day.

The Pension Building floor plan during Cleveland's inaugural ball (1885).

Commemorative Cleveland Invitation Card (1885).

Inaugural ball at the Pension Building following the inauguration of Grover Cleveland as 24th President of the United States, 4 March 1893. Drawing by Thure de Thulstrup.

The inauguration of Benjamin Harrison as the 23rd President of the United States (1889).

Dancing at Benjamin Harrison's inaugural ball (1889).

Stereograph from Benjamin Harrison's inaugural ball (1889).

The second inauguration of Grover Cleveland as the 24th President of the United States (1893).

Cleveland's inaugural ball invitation for his second inauguration (1893).

A light snowfall the night before the inauguration discouraged spectators from attending Cleveland's second inauguration. The inaugural ball at the Pension Building featured the new invention of electric lights.

William McKinley's Inaugural Ball (1897).

Inaugural Ball of William McKinley (1901).

William McKinley's second inauguration celebrated the success of the recently concluded Spanish American War. His Vice President, Theodore Roosevelt, was a popular figure from the war.

William McKinley's 1905 inauguration was the first inauguration and ball to take place in the 20th century, also celebrating the 25th president of the United States.

Theodore Roosevelt's Inaugural Ball in the Pension Building's Great Hall (1905).

Chairs and plants from Theodore Roosevelt's 1905 inaugural ball. The energetic President took his first oath of office upon the death of President McKinley, who died of an assassin's gunshot in 1901.

This is the PC Suite. It was often used for VIP gatherings or a private supper before the ball. His inaugural celebration was the largest and most diverse in memory, with cowboys, Native Americans, coal miners, and soldiers among the guests.

Theodore Roosevelt did not have an inaugural parade until 1905. Veterans of Roosevelt's Spanish-American War Rough Riders charged along the parade route at full gallop.

In March 1905, Roosevelt was inaugurated in Washington, D.C. with much celebration and fanfare.

Credits: Story

Images and text from National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress as well as the special collections of the National Building Museum.

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