History comes alive: Author gives reading in Salisbury from his new book

Published 12:10 am Friday, August 4, 2023

SALISBURY — The White House is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world with a past almost as long as America’s.

Built over 200 years ago, the White House has been the setting of countless memorable moments that have defined the country. In 1961, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy founded the White House Historical Association in order to safeguard its history as a political and cultural landmark.

On Thursday morning, the South Main Book Company hosted a book reading from Historical Association President Stewart McLaurin to promote his new children’s book, “The White House: Designed by James Hoban, Built by Many Hands!” which tells about the life of the man who designed it, James Hoban. McLaurin was born in Raleigh, but has formed a connection with Salisbury over the years after working on former Senator Elizabeth Dole’s staff. McLaurin always loved history and, after visiting Washington D.C. and the White House growing up, his passions evolved into an enthusiastic embracing of his role as the association’s president.

“The White House is the one thing that belongs to all of the American people. So much of American history has taken place through the prism of the White House. The people who lived there, the people who worked there, the decisions that were made there. It’s important for all Americans to understand the history of the White House,” McLaurin said.

McLaurin previously wrote another book about Hoban called, “James Hoban: Designer and Builder of the White House,” but his new one is the first one written specifically for kids.

“When you look at it from the perspective of a young person, what will be interesting to them and what will they understand and comprehend from the story? I had learned about that process as well and how to simplify the adult story into bite-sized nuggets for young people.”

Parents brought their children and a few adults came by themselves to hear McLaurin read passages from his book, share historical facts, and answer any questions for an engaged audience. His new book may be targeted for a more adolescent demographic, but McLaurin noted the diverse crowd that showed up and what that represents.

“It’s a children’s book, but it reminds me that we’re all young at heart,” McLaurin said. “So many of the people here are getting it for their grandkids and people that they know…You never know, one of them could grow up and be President of the United States and their interest could hinge from reading this book. That’s the type of investment in the future that we’re able to make.”

Former Salisbury Mayor Susan Kluttz knows McLaurin personally and wished to show her support by attending his book reading.

“I thought he did a wonderful job and the children seemed enthralled and I think even the adults learned something,” Kluttz said.

Before she left, Kluttz bought a copy of “The White House: Designed by James Hoban, Built by Many Hands!” to give to her granddaughter for her birthday.

“My husband and I will be taking her to Washington we hope sometime soon. I think this will be a good foundation for it,” Kluttz said.