THE WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON D. C. — The real name of this building is the Executive Mansion, but it is almost universally called the White House. It is a plain but somewhat imposing edifice, built of freestone painted white. It is only two stories high, but the effect of this is relieved by the eight ionic columns which support the lofty portico of the main entrance. The first Executive who occupied this was President Adams in 1800. Since then it has been the abode of every Chief Magistrate of the Republic. The grounds adjoining and belonging to the White House comprise about seventy-five acres, twenty of which are inclosed as the private garden of the President. The latter are not, however, sufficiently walled off to afford the Executive or his family any real privacy within their limits. The principal apartment in the White House is the “East Room,” a richly decorated parlor eighty feet long and forty wide. This is usually open to the public daily from 10 a. m. to 3 p. m. The President’s Study and the Cabinet Room are on the second floor, as are also the private apartments of the family. The history of the White House is of course the history of the country, so far as the latter has been affected by the distinguished men who have occupied in turn the Presidential chair; and no American can regard without emotion this stately though unostentatious building, beneath whose roof have lived Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant. (from John L. Stoddard, Glimpses of the world; a portfolio of photographs of the marvelous works of God and man – 1892)
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the United States, located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C. It has been the residence of every U.S. president since John Adams in 1800.
The house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia Creek sandstone in the Neoclassical style. When Thomas Jefferson moved into the house in 1801, he (with architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe) added low colonnades on each wing that concealed stables and storage. In 1814, during the War of 1812, the mansion was set ablaze by the British Army in the Burning of Washington, destroying the interior and charring much of the exterior. Reconstruction began almost immediately, and President James Monroe moved into the partially reconstructed Executive Residence in October 1817. Construction continued with the addition of the semi-circular South portico in 1824 and the North portico in 1829.
Because of crowding within the executive mansion itself, President Theodore Roosevelt had all work offices relocated to the newly constructed West Wing in 1901. Eight years later, President William Howard Taft expanded the West Wing and created the first Oval Office which was eventually moved as the section was expanded. In the main mansion, the third-floor attic was converted to living quarters in 1927 by augmenting the existing hip roof with long shed dormers. A newly constructed East Wing was used as a reception area for social events; Jefferson’s colonnades connected the new wings. East Wing alterations were completed in 1946, creating additional office space. By 1948, the house’s load-bearing exterior walls and internal wood beams were found to be close to failure. Under Harry S. Truman, the interior rooms were completely dismantled and a new internal load-bearing steel frame constructed inside the walls. Once this work was completed, the interior rooms were rebuilt.
The modern-day White House complex includes the Executive Residence, West Wing, East Wing, the Eisenhower Executive Office Building—the former State Department, which now houses offices for the President’s staff and the Vice President—and Blair House, a guest residence. The Executive Residence is made up of six stories—the Ground Floor, State Floor, Second Floor, and Third Floor, as well as a two-story basement. The term White House is often used as a metonym for the Executive Office of the President of the United States and for the president’s administration and advisers in general, as in “The White House has decided that….”. The property is a National Heritage Site owned by the National Park Service and is part of the President’s Park. In 2007, it was ranked second on the American Institute of Architects list of “America’s Favorite Architecture”. (from Wikipedia)
- The White House: An Historic Guide
- Under This Roof: The White House and the Presidency–21 Presidents, 21 Rooms, 21 Inside Stories
- The Hidden White House: Harry Truman and the Reconstruction of America’s Most Famous Residence