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The official home for the U.S. Rebuilt after a British attack in 1814, the “President’s House” evolved with the personal touches of its residents, and accommodated such technological changes as the installation of electricity. The building underwent major structural changes in the early 1900s under Teddy Roosevelt, who also officially established the “White House” moniker, and again under Harry Truman after WWII. Counting the Oval Office and the Rose Garden among its famous features, it remains the only private residence of a head of state open free of charge to the public.
Not long after the inauguration of President George Washington in 1789, plans to build an official President’s House in a federal district along the Potomac River took shape. A contest to find a builder produced a winning design from Irish-born architect James Hoban, who modeled his building after an Anglo-Irish villa in Dublin called the Leinster House.
The cornerstone was laid on October 13, 1792, and over the next eight years a construction team comprised of both enslaved and freed African Americans and European immigrants built the Aquia Creek sandstone structure. It was coated with lime-based whitewash in 1798, producing a color that gave rise to its famous nickname. Built at a cost of $232,372, the two-story house was not quite completed when John Adams and Abigail Adams became the first residents on November 1, 1800.
Thomas Jefferson added his own personal touches upon moving in a few months later, installing two water closets and working with architect Benjamin Latrobe to add bookending terrace-pavilions. Having transformed the building into a more suitable representation of a leader’s home, Jefferson held the first inaugural open house in 1805, and also opened its doors for public tours and receptions on New Year’s Day and the Fourth of July.
Burned to the ground by the British in August 1814, the President’s House was nearly left in its smoldering remains as lawmakers contemplated moving the capital to another city. Instead, Hoban was brought back to rebuild it nearly from scratch, in some areas incorporating the original, charred walls. Upon reassuming residency in 1817, James Madison and his wife Dolley gave the home a more regal touch by decorating with extravagant French furniture.
The building’s South and North Porticoes were added in 1824 and 1829, respectively, while John Quincy Adams established the residence’s first flower garden. Subsequent administrations continued to overhaul and bolster the interior through Congressional appropriations; the Fillmores added a library in the second-floor oval room, while the Arthurs hired famed decorator Louis Tiffany to redecorate the east, blue, red and state dining rooms.
William Taft hired architect Nathan Wyeth to expand the executive wing in 1909, resulting in the formation of the Oval Office as the president’s work space. In 1913, the White House added another enduring feature with Ellen Wilson’s Rose Garden. A fire during the Hoover administration in 1929 destroyed the executive wing and led to more renovations, which continued after Franklin Roosevelt entered office.
Architect Eric Gugler more than doubled the space of what was becoming known as the “West Wing,” added a swimming pool in the west terrace for the polio-stricken president, and moved the Oval Office to the southeast corner. A new east wing was constructed in 1942, its cloakroom transformed into a movie theater.
A final major overhaul took place after Harry Truman entered office in 1945. With structural problems mounting from the 1902 installation of floor-bearing steel beams, most of the building’s interior was stripped bare as a new concrete foundation went in place. The Trumans helped redesign most of the state rooms and decorate the second and third floors, and the president proudly displayed the results during a televised tour of the completed house in 1952.
Over the course of 1969-70, a porte-cochere and circular drive were added to the exterior of the West Wing, with a new press briefing room installed inside. Following a 1978 study to assess the exterior paint, up to 40 layers were removed in some areas, allowing for repairs of deteriorated stone. Meanwhile, the Carter administration set about adjusting to a new information age by installing the White House’s first computer and laser printer. The internet made its debut in the mansion under the watch of George H.W. Bush in 1992.
The White House today holds 142 rooms on six floors, the floor space totaling approximately 55,000 square feet. It has hosted longstanding traditions such as the annual Easter Egg Roll, as well as historic events like the 1987 nuclear arms treaty with Russia. The only private residence of a head of state open free of charge to the public, the White House reflects a nation’s history through the accumulated collections of its residing presidents, and serves as a worldwide symbol of the American republic.
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Washington’s visionary planner was Pierre Charles L’Enfant, a French army engineer who fought in the American Revolution. Two factors strongly influenced L’Enfant’s imagination as he planned the capital city: his understanding of 18th-century Baroque landscape architecture and his familiarity with the city of Paris and the grounds of Versailles. L’Enfant adapted the city’s formal plan to the area’s natural topography, carefully selecting important sites for principal buildings on the basis of the order of their importance, beginning with the U.S. Capitol building, which he placed on a high ridge. He then symbolically linked it, by way of Pennsylvania Avenue, to the presidential palace (the White House), on a slightly lower ridge.
Placing the Capitol at the centre of the street plan, L’Enfant drew surveyors’ lines through the building to the points of the compass, thereby separating the city into four sections: Northwest (the largest quadrant), Northeast, Southeast, and Southwest. Three of the four surveyors’ lines became streets: North Capitol, East Capitol, and South Capitol streets. The fourth dividing line stretches west from the Capitol along the middle of the Mall to the Potomac River.
Washington’s streets are organized in a scheme of broad diagonal avenues overlain on a grid of wide north-south- and east-west-trending streets. Thus, an orderly web of wide tree-lined avenues creates great vistas and leads both to powerful focal points and open public spaces. The intersections of two or three diagonal avenues are punctuated with landscaped circles and squares, while their intersections with grid streets create triangular and trapezoidal lots and parks, resulting in interesting streetscapes.
Streets running north-south are numbered, and streets running east-west are lettered. There are two sets of numbered streets and two sets of lettered streets. One set of numbered streets commences to the east of the Capitol, and the other starts to the west. The two corresponding sets of lettered streets begin to the north and to the south of the Capitol. Each street’s name is followed by the abbreviation of the quadrant in which it is located (e.g., 1st Street NW or A Street SE). There are no J, X, Y, or Z streets, and the two B Streets were renamed Constitution Avenue and Independence Avenue. A number of diagonal avenues are named for U.S. states.
L’Enfant’s city plan was reconsidered in 1900 during the city’s centennial celebration (Congress first convened in Washington in 1800). The Senate Park Commission, headed by Sen. James McMillan of Michigan, enlisted the country’s foremost architects, artists, and landscape planners to review and refine L’Enfant’s plan for the 20th century. Ultimately, many new monuments, federal buildings, parks, and museums were created.
A new 100-year “Extending the Legacy” scheme was released in 1997 to protect the L’Enfant plan and restore those features of it that had been neglected. The scheme, prepared by the National Capital Planning Commission, aims to encourage local government, international organizations, and private developers to relocate to some of the city’s more neglected neighbourhoods, to stimulate the local economy, to revitalize Washington’s expansive waterfront properties, and to improve public transportation within the city and in the surrounding region.
 Design and construction
Hoban was inspired by the classical architecture of the Roman Vitruvius and the Renaissance-era Andrea Palladio. While several buildings have been cited as principle inspiration for Hoban's design, the upper floors of Leinster House in Dublin has been singled out as the most verifiable influence.
Palladian architecture had inspired a many buildings of monumental style in Western Europe, and the White House's southern facade is a combination of the Palladian and neoclassical architectural styles. The ground floor is rusticated in the Palladian fashion with a neoclassical projecting bow of three bays at the centre of the facade. The whole building was to be white-painted Aquia Creek sandstone.
However, Washington was displeased with Hoban's original design submission, deeming it to be too small and not sufficiently monumental to befit the President. His recommendations, for two storeys to be increased to three, and for the nine-bay facade to be increased to 11, were incorporated by Hoban.
The construction, undertaken largely by an enslaved and free African-American workforce, was still underway when President John Adams became the first leader to move into the house in 1800.
In 1814, the invading British stormed the White House and set fire to it, destroying the roof and interior. Despite subsequent calls for the President's residency to abandon the site for a new location, or even city, President James Madison employed Hoban to oversee the renovation of the existing building.
The White House was fully renovated according to the original designs in time for the newly inaugurated President James Monroe to move into it in 1817. The South Portico was constructed during Monroe's administration in 1824, and the North Portico was constructed during President Andrew Jackson's administration in 1829.
10 Surprising Facts About the White House | Condé Nast Traveler
Think Mr. T and toga parties. To revisit this article, visit My Profile, then View saved stories. By Jordi Lippe-McGraw There’s a lot of mystery when it comes to what’s going on behind-the-scenes at the White House these days. While we don’.
Look back at the history of White House pets
Joe Biden will continue the tradition of many presidents before him when he brings his dogs, Champ and Major, into the White House. NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell introduces us to the incoming pups and then looks back at the history of our president.
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John and Abigail Adams lived in what she called “the great castle” for only five months. Shortly after they moved in, Thomas Jefferson defeated Adams in his bid for .
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Building a mansion for the family of the president and his staff passed when Congress established the District of Columbia as the permanent capital of the United States, 16 July 1790. President George Washington helped select the site, along with Pierre city planner L ‘enfant, whose project posed a huge house, four times larger than the one built in 1800.
The architect was chosen in a contest which received several proposals and was won by James Hoban, Irish architect. Hoban was persuaded to submit a design, and Washington was the judge selected.
The building designed by Hoban was based on the first two floors of Leinster House had already built in Dublin, now the Irish Parlamente.
On October 13, 1792, George Washington laid the cornerstone of the building that would become a federal grand mansion neoclassical style, with details that echo classical Greek architecture are made.
During the 8 years of their construction they were spent $ 232,372, roughly equivalent to $ 63 million in 2007 dollars Scottish masons were brought in to do the work of the stone, as the mansion unlike the use of the time would be covered sandstone instead of red brick, but they did not know how to solve the sealing of the porous stone and turned to a thick whitewash that sealed like glue but at the same time made the gray stone disappear was replaced by white lime. Thus, from its earliest days, the president’s house was white and quickly gave him the nickname “White House.”
The house was considerably smaller than the grand palace originally designed by L’Enfant. Nevertheless when it was completed, the president’s house was the largest residence in the United States and would remain so until the 1860s.
Transfer and termination
When the second president of United States, John Adams, moved to the Presidential House on November 1, 1800, it was far from over. Adams and his family occupied the second floor and in the basement, which is currently the ground floor, all service personnel, cooks, laundry and cleaning other rooms stood. The old housekeeper’s room with its built-in wardrobes, is currently for Diplomatic Reception Hall.
At that time the House for the Public Hearing (East Room) was not finished and remained in that state for years, like the grand staircase in the far north is now the State Dining Room, and some of the the second floor rooms were used only for storage.
The second president to occupy the White House was Thomas Jefferson, entered in March 1801 and the residence testaba still unfinished. One of the first actions taken by the new resident was to build full bathrooms on the top floor to replace the outdoor toilet. He created a museum in the entrance hall, on wildlife with stuffed animals and Indian artifacts. He placed his private secretary at the southern end of the unfinished East Room, in the dining room a lounge for cabinet and pavilions on the east and west sides for servants and stables. An arc ordered to be built on the east side, as a first indication of the entrance to the guest wing, but later collapsed with a different design turned build and survived until 1859.
During the War of 1812 much of the city of Washington was burned by the British army. White House left standing only the outer walls. Despite the suggestions of the architect Latrobe remake with a new project, its new occupant, President James Madison decided to restore it and return it to its original appearance, under the supervision of the same architect who had built James Hoban. With a few small changes restoration was completed in 1817, and under the leadership of President James Monroe who decorated it with a modern flair.
The south and north of the building porches were added in 1824 and 1829, respectively, while John Quincy Adams opened the first flower garden of the residence. Subsequent governments continued reviewing and strengthening the interior through Congressional appropriations. The Fillmore added a library in the oval room on the second floor, while Arthurs famomoso hired to decorate decorator Louis Tiffany eaters this area.
After the Border Dispute San Juan and the withdrawal of troops, the daughter of President Johnson redecorated residence with bold geometric designs. large glasshouses were built on both sides of the mansion, providing flowers and plants of all kinds, as well as a nice place to talk or read a book.
From 1873-1927 the White House received numerous architectural and decorative contributions. From a Victorian to replacement in 1891 of gas lamps by electric lights decoration.
In 1902 Theodore Roosevelt removes the Victorian decor accumulated over the last 30 years and returns to its roots with federal elements of Georgia. the first “wing West and East” was built and moved staff.
In 1927 the original wooden beams were replaced on the third floor by steel beams.
In 1948, President Harry S Truman added a much-discussed South Portico balcony on the second floor. Not long after this construction was discovered that the main body of the residence was structurally unstable. the structure was emptied and rebuilt using concrete and again steel beams to replace the original wooden beams. bathrooms were added in each room and opened the grand staircase to the entrance hall instead of Cross Hall.
The Kennedy renewed the decor and furnishings of the White House. The first lady created the Historical Association White House to help raise awareness of the heritage of it and got it was declared Museum to help preserve it.
Mrs. Kennedy also transformed the former Prince of Wales suite in a private dining room and the family kitchen became the first kitchen.
Since the 60s the architectural and decorative changes made by the various administrations within were limited because the White House is treated as a living museum.
In early 1990, outside the White House was recovered, some 40 layers of paint and repaired and repainted exterior sandstone withdrew. In 1993, the White House embarked on an extensive “greening” project aimed to reduce energy consumption.
12 The Ghost Of Abe Lincoln
When Winston Churchill stayed at the White House he spent the night in President Abraham Lincoln's old bedroom. Well, the following day Churchill left in a hurry. He had supposedly seen the ghost of the late President Lincoln stepping out of the bathtub in the Lincoln bedroom. Churchill did return to the White House again but he refused to stay the night in Lincoln's bedroom again. Could you blame him?
Churchill isn't the only one to admit to seeing the ghost of Abraham Lincoln. There have been numerous other sightings over the years including sightings by Lady Grace Coolidge and Mary Eben (the personal secretary of Eleanor Roosevelt). Mary Eben believed to have seen Lincoln sitting on his bed putting on his boots! She became hysterical and ran screaming from the bedroom.
Meet the Man Who Designed and Built the White House
Thomas Jefferson designed Monticello. Frank Lloyd Wright created Falling Water. Paul Revere Williams designed the Beverly Hills Hotel. While many architects of iconic landmark buildings remain renowned, the man behind the White House is elusive and unknown.
Until now. On St. Patrick’s Day, the Irish architect of the White House is revealed with an anthology of scholarly essays, as well as historic photographs, sketches, maps, newspaper clippings, and drawings. James Hoban: Designer and Builder of the White House ($49.95), published by the nonprofit White House Historical Association, studies the man and his craft by spotlighting his largest feat, the White House.
James Hoban's drawing of the White House in 1793.
Photo: The White House Historical Association
“James Hoban’s story marks the beginning of the story of the White House itself,” says White House Historical Association president Stewart McLaurin, who edited the anthology. “I felt a comprehensive book on his life, influences, and accomplishments was long-overdue and decided to bring together a group of American, Irish, and British historians to share his story.”
The book addresses much of the mystery around the architect. McLaurin says that Hoban left little personal effects behind, and a fire in the 1880s destroyed Hoban’s papers. Only one wax portrait of him and several handwritten letters survive in the National Archives’ collection of Records of the Commissioners for the District of Columbia.
“It is curious, and atypical of architects of landmark buildings, that he is not more celebrated for his work on the White House like his contemporaries Benjamin Henry Latrobe or Charles Pierre Lɾnfant are for their work in building the Federal City of Washington,” McLaurin says. The anthology hopes to change that. It includes detailed illustrations to accompany its prose, and draws interesting comparisons with the White House and contemporaneous Irish landmarks. Born in 1755, Hoban pulled inspiration for his designs from his youth in the Irish countryside. He was raised by rural tenant farmers on a country estate, called Desart Court, designed in the grand Palladian style. Neoclassicism, specifically neo-Palladianism, were the dominant architectural styles of Hoban’s time and can be seen in his sketches of the White House.
A Look at the Most Impressive&mdashand Fascinating&mdashWhite House Interiors Throughout History
Including the stained glass genius of Louis Comfort Tiffany and Sister Parish's Kennedy-era creations.
On January 20th, President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated at the United States Capitol. This of course means that after the ceremony, Biden will become the new resident of the most famous house in the country: The White House. While we wait to find out who the new First couple will tap as their White House interior decorator, House Beautiful takes a look back at some of the most impressive White House interiors throughout history, including the famed Sister Parish designs of the Kennedy era and Michael S. Smith&rsquos vision for the Obamas (which can be seen in the designer&rsquos recently released book, Designing History: The Extraordinary Art & Style of the Obama White House).
The White House&rsquos Origins
Before we explore the White House&rsquos most prominent interiors, let&rsquos explore the famed home&rsquos history.
The White House was designed by Irish architect James Hoban in the Neoclassical style of architecture and built over the course of eight years (from 1792 to 1800). The edifice itself is made of Aquia Creek sandstone that was painted white because of the risk posed by the permeability of the stone, which could cause cracking in colder months.
Before the current White House, the President&rsquos House in Philadelphia served as a home to two presidents: George Washington and John Adams. The construction of the White House was completed just a few months before Adams&rsquos presidency ended, so he was able to move into the People&rsquos House before his term concluded.
Until 1901, what we know as the White House was actually called the Executive Mansion, which then-President Theodore Roosevelt didn&rsquot find ideal&mdashgiven that many U.S. states had a governor&rsquos residence that was also called the executive mansion. Roosevelt subsequently coined the term that we know and still use to this day, which can also be seen atop copies of his stationery.
The Early Years
When President John Adams and his wife, First Lady Abigail Adams, moved into the White House, the residence was lacking in decor, given that it was only recently completed. The East Room of the White House&mdashwhich is now used for events such as dances, press conferences, ceremonies, banquets, receptions, and concerts&mdashwas then used by Abigail Adams as a laundry room.
Thomas Jefferson was the first president of the United States to spend his entire presidency living in the White House, so he set the precedent for the home&rsquos opulent but still livable interiors by having furnishings and wallpaper imported from France.
The Late 1800s and Early 1900s
In 1882, President Chester Arthur enlisted Louis Comfort Tiffany to reimagine the Red Room, the Blue Room, the East Room, and the Entrance Hall, the latter of which soon welcomed the addition of a stained glass screen, in true Tiffany style.
1. Navy Mess
The Navy Mess at the White House, June 25, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
Navy Stewards have provided food service to the Commander in Chief since 1880. The modern White House Navy Mess was established under President Harry S. Truman in 1951. The Navy’s culinary specialists prepare and serve fine foods in the West Wing.
Seated reservations are available to senior officials including commissioned officers, Cabinet Secretaries, and their guests. Staff located in the West and East Wing can enjoy food made in the Navy Mess from a take-out window located adjacent to the dining hall.
2. Situation Room
The Situation Room of the White House, Dec. 30, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2011. Seated, from left, are: Brigadier General Marshall B. “Brad” Webb, Assistant Commanding General, Joint Special Operations Command Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Standing, from left, are: Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff National Security Advisor Tom Donilon Chief of Staff Bill Daley Tony Blinken, National Security Advisor to the Vice President Audrey Tomason Director for Counterterrorism John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Please note: a classified document seen in this photograph has been obscured. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Months after being sworn into office, President John F. Kennedy was confronted with the Bay of Pigs Invasion in Cuba and insisted that intelligence information feed directly into the White House. The Situation Room was established in 1961 to meet President Kennedy’s request.
The current “Sit Room” is a 5,000-square-foot complex of rooms that is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week to monitor national and world intelligence information. Televisions for secure video conferences and technology can link the President to generals and world leaders around the globe.
Typically, a Federal style house is a simple square or rectangular box, two or three stories high and two rooms deep. Some Federal styled homes have been made larger, modified with projecting wings, attached dependencies or even both. In some Federal homes and buildings, one can find an elaborate curved or polygonal floor plan such as with the Octagon House in Washington, D.C. (1799) located at 18 th Street and New York Avenue NW. In the Rockville historic district at 103 West Montgomery Avenue, the Beall-Dawson house is an excellent example of Federal style.
Many Federal style design elements are notably understated. For example, exterior decoration in Federal styles and designs is generally confined to a porch or entry element. Compared to a Georgian house, the columns and moldings in Federal architecture are narrow and rather simple.
Federal style architecture often showcases geometrical concepts. Elliptical, circular and fan-shaped motifs formed by fluted radiating lines are common decorations found in Federal style homes and office buildings. One of the oldest American examples of such flourishes is on the dining-room ceiling of Mount Vernon. Executed in plaster, the Federal design contains an ornamental rinceau border festooned by corn husks and a central rosette.
Not surprisingly, the building materials in Federal style architecture vary with location. The homes of the Northeast were typically made of clapboard, while Southern houses were often brick as are most of the Federal style homes in the urban north, where fireproofing was much desired.
Hip roofs capped by a balustrade and simple gable shapes (such as those on numerous Federal town houses in Washington, D.C.) and even roofs with a center gable crowned by a front façade pediment, are among the most popular Federal roof styles. The Friendship House, located on South Carolina Avenue SE on Capitol Hill (c. 1795), is an example of the front façade pediment.
Dormers often pierce the roof to bring light and space into an attic. The Carberry House (1803) at 421½ Sixth Street S.E. in the Capitol Hill area of Washington, D.C. is a particularly good example.
Windows are never grouped in a Federal style house, but are arranged individually in strict horizontal and vertical symmetry. Typically, the front windows in a federal style home are five-ranked, although there are examples of three and seven-ranked windows. Palladian-style windows are often used in gables as an architectural flourish. Windows are almost invariably composed of double-hung wood sashes with the top sash held in place by metal pins (counterbalancing weights had not been invented yet). Thin wooden muntins divide the window into small lights (panes). Before the Revolutionary War, the standard light was 6” x 8”, but as glazing technologies improved, the size increased to 8” x 13”. Generally, the windows feature six over six lights, although nine over nine and other configurations can also be found in several federal style homes.
Befitting its importance, especially when the center of a strictly symmetrical façade, the front door of a Federal home is usually the most decorated part of the home’s exterior. On this score, a semicircular or elliptical fan light above the door with or without flanking sidelights is a favorite device used in Federal architecture.
A doorway’s surround might also include ornate molding or a small entry porch. Some Federal style designers often enhance the drama of the front entrance with curvilinear lines, front stair rails, iron balconies and even curved fronts. Decorative moldings, such as tooth-like dentils, are often used to emphasize cornices in the Federal design.
Ask the White House
October 16, 2008
White House Grounds Superintendent Dale Haney
April 21, 2005
Spring Garden Tour
October 19, 2004
Fall Garden Tour
June 17, 2003
White House Horticulturist Dale Haney