The White House is the main workplace and official home of the U.S. President. The building itself is made of Aquia stone, painted white, with the architecture being of the late Georgian style. The construction begun in 1792 and was completed in 1800.
History and Facts of the White House
The history of the White House along with the nation's capital started with President George Washington signing an Act of Congress in the month of December, in 1790, which declared that the federal government would be situated in a district 'not exceeding ten miles on the river Potomac'.
It was President George Washington, along with Pierre L'Enfant, the city planner, who decided on the site where the new residence would be, which is known today as 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
As plans were being devised for the construction of the new federal city, there was a competition held in order to find a builder to design and construct the 'President's House'. Nine plans were submitted, amongst which James Hoban's, an Irish-born architect, was selected. He won a gold medal for the fine-looking and practical building he constructed.
Though the building was supervised by President Washington, he never got to live in it. It was President John Adams, the first resident to move into the White House, along with his wife, Abigail, when the construction was nearly completed. Every President of the United States resided in the White House, and each of them made his own additions and changes.
The White House was set on fire and scorched by the British in 1814, in the course of the War of 1812. The exterior walls were painted white for the first time during the reconstruction. In 1990, which was 176 years after the fire of 1814, the scars of that fire became visible when the paint was taken off from the walls due to a restoration.
The Truman family took up residence at Blair House, just across Pennsylvania Avenue, while the renovation was being carried out. Nevertheless, the stone walls on the exterior are the same ones that were used when the building was first constructed.
At different times during the history of the White House, it has been referred to by different names such as the 'Executive Mansion', the 'President's House', and the 'President's Palace'. Its current name was given by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1901.
President Jefferson also started the practice of opening up the house to the public, and this practice has been continued ever since, except during times of war. Plus, Jefferson also welcomed visitors annually to receptions held on New Year's Day and the Fourth of July.
In fact, in 1829, President Andrew Jackson was forced to take safety in a hotel as a 20,000 strong crowd of Inaugural callers descended on the White House. The aides then lured the crowd out of the mud-spattered White House by filling washtubs out on the lawn with whiskey and orange juice.
The White House has 132 rooms and six floors, which serve as accommodation for the people who reside in it, work in it, and visit it. The floor area, including the six floors, cover about 55,000 square feet. About 570 gallons of paint are required to cover the entire exterior surface of the building.
Apart from hosting hundreds of formal and informal get-togethers for the numerous celebrities and world leaders that visit the White House each year, there are also 6,000 ordinary people that visit and tour it each day.
There are 5 chefs that serve full-time, who can serve dinner to a 140-strong guest-list while being able to whip up 1,000 delicious appetizers for any gathering. And as for recreation, the First Family has a wide variety of them such as: indoor tennis courts, a running track, a swimming pool, a bowling lane, a billiard room, and a movie theater.
As J.B. West, the chief usher of the White House, right from the time of Franklin D. Roosevelt's presidency to Richard Nixon's tenure, and the author of the best-seller 'Upstairs at the White House', says in his book: "The Executive Mansion of the United States is far more than a temporary home for the family who lives there for four or eight years. ...
... It is now a museum containing priceless works of art and furnishings, a national monument open to 2 million tourists a year, a guest hotel for entertaining visitors of state and, in recent years, an impregnable fortress for protecting the life of the commander-in-chief."