The White House

Posted by THE WHITE HOUSE on 7/24/2003 4:35:11 PM | Views: 379 |

The White House

The oldest public building in Washington DC is also the most famous residence in America. The cornerstone of the "President's House" as it was originally named was set in place in 1792. President George Washington ordered a stone facing for the exterior walls, which were whitewashed because the Virginian sandstone used was too soft to face the elements on its own. It is unclear, however, if this was the origin of The President's House being renamed "The White House," or whether the name can be attributed to a brilliantly white coat of paint that was applied several years later. It is clear, though, that George Washington never lived in The White House, serving his two terms as the first president in Philadelphia, while The White House and the Capitol were under construction.

The White House has been the home of all American presidents since November 1800 when George Washington's successor, John Adams, moved in with a prayer, "May none but honest and wise Men ever rule under this roof." For the next century the affairs of state and domestic life were intermingled under that roof until President Theodore Roosevelt observed the need for "dignified office space" in The White House. His decision to build the West Wing in 1902 was probably motivated in part by the noisy games of the six lively young Roosevelt children who constantly disrupted presidential meetings and were known to rollerskate in the halls.

A major reconstruction of The White House occurred during the tenure of President Harry Truman. President Truman had noticed, among other weaknesses in the aging building, that his heavy second-floor bathtub posed a risk to receptions and meetings that were often held in the room directly below. The White House was gutted and rebuilt, at a then-prohibitive cost of six million dol- lars, leaving virtually nothing of the original building, and increasing available space from 48 to 54 rooms.

Minor facelifts, redecorating and landscaping occur often as successive presidents personalize The White House to their needs and tastes. A significant change in recent years was President Bill Clinton's 1995 decision for security reasons to turn Pennsylvania Avenue into a walking mall in front of The White House. A quiet, more peaceful, vehicle-free neighborhood was an immediate bonus.




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