The White House
While complimenting its surroundings with an unforgettable charm and elegance at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, The White House is one of the most highly anticipated sites on one’s itinerary when visiting Washington, DC. The White House is proudly recognized as the most prestigious residence in the United States of America, as well as the official home and office of The President of the United States. This beautiful mansion is truly a National Historic Treasure, and has been the official residence of every United States President since President John Adams became its first occupant on November 1, 1800.
The White House was designed by James Hoban, an Irish immigrant architect who won a “Design the American Presidential Palace” competition implemented by President George Washington in 1792. Pierre L’Enfant was the city planner who chose the building site, and James Hoban was paid five-hundred dollars ($500) to oversee the project. Construction began on October 13, 1792, and was completed over the next seven years with the labor of African slaves and European immigrants. Originally, the exterior of The White House was painted a light-gray, and called the Presidential Palace or the Executive Mansion, until it was burned down by British Troops in 1814. Since its reconstruction between 1814 and 1817, the exterior was painted white and the Executive Mansion has been known as The White House. Construction continued for many years with several additions such as the South Portico in 1824, and the North Portico in 1829. The West Wing was completed in 1901, creating much needed office space and the first Oval Office. Completion of the East Wing in 1946 created more office space for the ever-crowded White House staff of up to fifty (50) sometimes.
Currently, The White House has 55,000 square feet of floor space consisting of six (6) stories, which include the Ground Floor, State Floor, Second Floor, Third Floor, basement, and sub-basement. This 132 room mansion with 35 bathrooms is strategically designed in the interest of The United States President and family, as well as staff members and guests. The White House also has 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases, and 3 elevators. This amazing space also includes such amenities as a tennis court, bowling alley, Movie Theater, jogging track, swimming pool and a putting green.
The Executive Residence serves as The President’s private residence, as well as space for official ceremonies and entertaining.
The West Wing functions as the official workplace of The President which we know as “The Oval Office”, and the offices of his staff members.
The East Wing houses the offices and staff of The First Lady, and was built during World War II to shield the construction of an underground bunker to be used for emergency shelter. That bunker is known today as the Presidential Emergency Operations Center.
Due to heightened security caused by attacks on September 11, 2001, visitors who wish to tour the grounds and interior of The White House must apply through the office of their Congressional Representative for reservations at least six months prior to desired date. In addition, each applicant must pass a thorough background check.
Although The White House was designated a National Historic Landmark on December 19, 1960, it is one of the three National Historic Landmarks exempted from The National Register of Historic Places. Section 107 of the National Historic Preservation Act of October 15, 1966 states:
“Nothing in this Act shall be construed to be applicable to the White House and its grounds, the Supreme Court building and its grounds, or the United States Capitol and its related buildings and grounds.”
— Written by Patrice Morton