Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
5-Star General of the Army & President of the United States
The Summer White House Years
President Dwight D. Eisenhower increased Lowry AFB’s prestige when he made the field his base for the Summer White House during the years 1953 through 1955.
Official word of the first impending visit was received when Lt Col William C. Draper, Air Force Aide to the President, informed Brig Gen John T. Sprague, LTTC Commander, by telephone 1 June 1953, that Lowry would be the White House Headquarters during the President’s summer vacation in Colorado.
Building 256, the main building of the Sanatorium when the property was given to the Air Corps, was selected as the most suitable building on the base for the President and his staff. Several offices within the building were vacated, and the rooms were completely renovated prior to the arrival of the Presidential Party. The President’s office, Room 230, was given light green walls with white woodwork and maroon draperies. A gray flattop desk with a leather executive chair, a club chair with a side table, and a lamp were also provided.
Other offices were made available for press activities and the secret service. The General’s conference room was reserved for formal press conferences, and a motor pool was set up behind the building.
The C-121 Constellation, “The Columbine,” carrying the President, Mrs. Eisenhower, and members of the President’s staff, arrived at Lowry Air Force Base at 1600, 8 August 1953. They were met at the foot of the ramp by General Sprague, Governor Dan Thornton of Colorado, and other dignitaries. Full military honors were accorded the President, with the Honor Guard, Color Guard, 529th Air Force Band, and two 30-man flights of airmen on the Lowry flight line.
The President stayed at Lowry until 19 September on his first visit, and the daily press dispatches kept Lowry AFB on the front pages of newspapers around the country throughout his stay.
Ike’s second visit was from 21 August through 15 October 1954. It was on this trip that the President broke with tradition in calling the members of the National Security Council together for a special conference at the Summer White House. The council had not previously met outside of Washington D. C. On 12 September 1954, the council met in the Williamsburg Room at the Officers Club. The purpose was to hear Secretary of State John Foster Dulles give a report of his just completed trip to the Far East on which he visited Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek in Formosa. Gathered in the room were the President, Vice President Richard Nixon, Secretary of Defense Charles E. Wilson, CIA Director Allen Dulles, FBI Chief J. Edgar Hoover, Atomic Energy Commissioner Lewis Strauss, and perhaps the largest group of truly distinguished visitors to visit Lowry Air Force Base.
The third “Summer White House” period at Lowry was 14 August through 11 November 1955. The President, however, was on the base only through 23 September, since he suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized at nearby Fitzsimons Army General Hospital from that date until his departure.¹
¹From “A Forty Year Look at Lowry Air Force Base 1937-1977” by Melvin F. Porter, Lowry Technical Training Center, Lowry AFB, Colorado, January 1978.