White House

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White House
White House north and south sides.jpg
Top: The North Lawn of the White House
Bottom: The South Lawn of the White House
General information
Architectural styleNeoclassical, Palladian
Address1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. U.S.
Coordinates38°53′52″N 77°02′11″W / 38.8977°N 77.0365°W / 38.8977; -77.0365Coordinates: 38°53′52″N 77°02′11″W / 38.8977°N 77.0365°W / 38.8977; -77.0365
Current tenantsJoe Biden, President of the United States and the First Family
Construction startedOctober 13, 1792; 229 years ago (1792-10-13)
CompletedNovember 1, 1800; 221 years ago (1800-11-01)[1]
Design and construction
ArchitectJames Hoban

The White House is the official residence and workplace of the President of the United States and the First Family. It is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., and has been the residence of every U.S. president since John Adams in 1800.

The residence was designed by Irish-born architect James Hoban in the neoclassical style. Hoban modelled the building on Leinster House in Dublin, a building which today houses the Oireachtas, the Irish legislature. Construction took place between 1792 and 1800, using Aquia Creek sandstone painted white.

President Theodore Roosevelt had all work offices relocated to the newly constructed West Wing in 1901. Eight years later, in 1909, President William Howard Taft expanded the West Wing and created the first Oval Office, which was eventually moved as the section was expanded.

The East Wing alterations were completed in 1946, creating additional office space. By 1948, the residence'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 was constructed inside the walls. On the exterior, the Truman Balcony was added. Once the structural work was completed, the interior rooms were rebuilt.

The modern-day White House complex includes the Executive Residence, the West Wing, the 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 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".

Early History (1789-1830)[change | change source]

President George Washington occupied two private houses in New York City as the executive mansion. He lived at the first, known as the Franklin House and owned by Treasury Commissioner through late February 1790. The executive mansion moved to the larger quarters of the Alexander Macomb House at 39–41 Broadway where he stayed, with his wife and a small staff until August 1790. In May 1790, New York began construction of a proper house for the presidential mansion, Government House. Washington never used the mansion because it was not completed until after the national capital was moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in December 1790.

The July 1790 Residence Act designated the capital be permanently located in the new Federal District, and temporarily in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for ten years while the permanent capital was built. Philadelphia rented the mansion of the wealthy merchant Robert Morris at 190 High Street as the President's House, which Washington occupied from November 1790 to March 1797. Since the house was too small to accommodate the thirty people who made up the presidential family, staff, and servants, Washington had it enlarged.

President John Adams also occupied the High Street mansion from March 1797 to May 1800. On Saturday, November 1, 1800, he became the first president to occupy the White House.

In 1814, during the War of 1812, the mansion was set on fire by the British Army in the Burning of Washington. Some of the soldiers who burned it were former slaves who had run away to fight with the British. The fire destroyed the inside of the house and charred much of the outside. Reconstruction began almost immediately. President James Monroe moved into the partially reconstructed house in October 1817. Construction continued with the addition of the South Portico in 1824 and the North in 1829.

Layout and amenities[change | change source]

Today the group of buildings housing the presidency is known as the White House Complex. It includes the central Executive Residence flanked by the East Wing and West Wing. The Chief Usher coordinates day to day household operations. The White House includes six stories and 55, of floor space, 132 rooms and 35 bathrooms, 412 doors, 147 windows, twenty-eight fireplaces, eight staircases, three elevators, five full-time chefs, a tennis court, a bowling alley, a movie theater, a jogging track, and a swimming pool. The White House receives up to 30,000 visitors each week.

Executive Residence[change | change source]

The original residence is in the center. Two colonnades, one on the east and one on the west designed by Jefferson, now serve to connect the East and West Wings added later. The Executive Residence houses the president's dwelling, as well as rooms for ceremonies and official entertaining. The State Floor of the residence building includes the East Room, Green Room, Blue Room, Red Room, State Dining Room, Family Dining Room, Cross Hall, Entrance Hall, and Grand Staircase. The Ground Floor is made up of the Diplomatic Reception Room, Map Room, China Room, Vermeil Room, Library, the main kitchen, and other offices. The second floor family residence includes the Yellow Oval Room, East and West Sitting Halls, the White House Master Bedroom, President's Dining Room, the Treaty Room, Lincoln Bedroom and Queens' Bedroom, as well as two additional bedrooms, a smaller kitchen, and a private dressing room. The third floor consists of the White House Solarium, Game Room, and a Linen Room.

West Wing[change | change source]

The West Wing holds the Oval Office and offices of his senior staff, with room for about 50 employees. It also includes the Cabinet Room, where the president conducts business meetings and where the Cabinet meets, as well as the White House Situation Room, James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, and Roosevelt Room.

East Wing[change | change source]

The East Wing, which contains additional office space, was added to the White House in 1942. Among its uses, the East Wing has intermittently housed the offices and staff of the first lady and the White House Social Office. Rosalynn Carter, in 1977, was the first to place her personal office in the East Wing and to formally call it the "Office of the First Lady". The East Wing was built during World War II in order to hide the construction of an underground bunker to be used in emergencies. The bunker has come to be known as the Presidential Emergency Operations Center.

Grounds[change | change source]

The White House and grounds cover just over 18 acres (7.3 ha). Before the construction of the North Portico, most public events were entered from the South Lawn, the grading and planting of which was ordered by Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson also drafted a planting plan for the North Lawn that included large trees that would have mostly obscured the house from Pennsylvania Avenue. During the mid-to-late 19th century a series of ever larger greenhouses were built on the west side of the house, where the current West Wing is located. During the Kennedy administration, the White House Rose Garden was redesigned by Rachel Lambert Mellon. The Rose Garden borders the West Colonnade. Bordering the East Colonnade is the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, which was begun by Jacqueline Kennedy but completed after her husband's assassination. Michelle Obama planted the White House's first organic garden and installed beehives on the South Lawn of the White House, which will supply organic produce and honey to the First Family and for state dinners and other official gatherings.

References[change | change source]

  1. "John Adams moves into White House". History.com.

Other websites[change | change source]