For thirty-one years, the building located at 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D. C, housed the National Endowment for the Humanities--until 2014, after the building was acquired by Donald Trump. It opened as the Trump International Hotel in 2016.
The President's proposed budget for fiscal year 2018 would eliminate funding to the National Endowment for the Humanities entirely, as well as to the National Endowment for the Arts, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It would also slash funds to the National Park Service and undercut a great deal of the incentive for investors to rehabilitate buildings of historic value through tax credits Trump himself has received on his Washington hotel.
Trump's attitude toward all of these programs is illuminated by his actions regarding his hotel in downtown Washington's Federal Triangle. Rather than maintain the character and irreplaceable qualities of the one-time post office--a neo-Romanesque building which holds a spot on the National Register of Historic Places--Trump made it ostentatious.
When Trump was seeking to lease the building in 2012, he promised great things, hiring Arthur Cotton Moore, a renowned architect whose history with the building went back several decades, to oversee the restoration. Moore had been instrumental in defending it from the wrecking ball in the 1960s and 1970s, and his presence on the project reassured others that Trump's ambitions might not be what they feared.
But once Trump had won the competition to acquire the building, Moore took an indefinite leave of absence, reportedly for medical reasons that were never specified. One could not help but ask: Was the man who had "unimpeachable" historic preservation credentials used as a mere bargaining chip by someone who prides himself on being the king of negotiating?
Soon, those working on Trump's behalf (mainly under the direction of his daughter Ivanka) began doing things that one member of the Trump team described as "inappropriate" and "inconsistent with the fabric of the building," according to a BuzzFeed report. Trump opined that the white marble floors that had existed since the building's opening in 1899 were "too old." He wanted to rip them up and replace them with carpeting, but instead settled for putting carpet on top of the floors--surely the better option, but still akin to slapping house paint on a classic car.
Furthermore, to fulfill the billionaire's desire that the hotel be "incredible, super luxury," Moore's replacement submitted pages of future depictions of the lobby, all labeled "Interior Paint and Gold Leafing." After all, "[Trump] wants to use gold on everything," observed a former member of his team.
Understandably, this did...