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White House, formerly Executive Mansion (1810–1901), the official office and residence of the chairman of the United states at 1600 Pennsylvania avenue N.W. In Washington, D.C. The is probably the most famous and easily recognizable residence in the world, serving together both the home and workplace of the president and the headquarters of the president’s principal staff members.



White House, drawing by James Hoban
Drawing of the key of the White home by James Hoban, 1792; in the Maryland historical Society, Baltimore.
Courtesy of the Maryland historical Society, Baltimore

The building’s history begins in 1792, once a public competition was held to choose a architecture for a presidential residence in the new capital city the Washington. Cutting board Jefferson, later on the country’s 3rd president (1801–09), utilizing the pseudonymous initials “A.Z.,” was among those that submitted drawings, yet Irish American architect James Hoban won the commission (and a $500 prize) v his arrangement for a Georgian mansion in the Palladian style. The structure was to have actually three floors and much more than 100 rooms and would be developed in sandstone imported native quarries follow me Aquia Creek in Virginia. The cornerstone to be laid top top October 13, 1792. Labourers, including local enslaved people, to be housed in short-lived huts built on the north next of the premises. They were joined by skilled stonemasons from Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1793.

In 1800 the whole federal federal government was relocated indigenous Philadelphia come Washington. Man Adams, the country’s second president (1797–1801), moved into the still unfinished presidential mansion ~ above November 1 and also the next night composed in a letter to his wife, Abigail Adams:

I Pray heaven Bestow the ideal of blessing on This House and also All that shall hereafter inhabit it. Might none but Honest and also Wise guys ever preeminence under this Roof.

At the insistence of Pres. Franklin Roosevelt (1933–45), the quotation to be inscribed on the fireplace the the State Dining Room instantly below the portrait the Abraham Lincoln, by George Healy.

When Abigail Adams finally arrived in Washington several days later, she was disappointed through the inadequate state the the residence. The very first lady wrote,

There is no a single apartment finished. We have not the least fence, yard, or various other convenience outside. I use the great unfinished audience room as a drying room for hanging increase the clothes.

The White house in the 19th century

The mansion quickly ended up being a focal suggest of the brand-new federal city and also was symbolically attached to the United states Capitol by means of Pennsylvania Avenue. Following his inauguration in in march 1801, Jefferson ended up being the second president to reside in the executive mansion. In keeping with his ardent republicanism, he opened up the house to publicly visitation each morning, a heritage that was continued (during peacetime) by all his successors. The personally attracted up landscaping plans and also had 2 earthen mounds mounted on the south lawn to repeat him the his beloved Virginia Piedmont. Meanwhile, construction continued ~ above the building’s interior, i m sorry still short ample staircases and suffered from a persistently leaky roof. During Jefferson’s tenure, the White home was elegantly furnished in louis XVI format (known in America as federal style).


During the war of 1812 the building was shed by the British, and Pres. James Madison (1809–17) and also his family members were compelled to flee the city. The Madisons eventually moved right into the nearby Octagon House, the Washington mansion of man Tayloe, a Virginia plantation owner. Reconstruction and also expansion started under Hoban’s direction, however the structure was not ready for occupancy until 1817, throughout the administration of Pres. James Monroe (1817–25). Hoban’s reconstruction contained the addition of east and also west terraces ~ above the main building’s flanks; a semicircular southern portico and also a colonnaded phibìc portico were included in the 1820s.

During the 19th century the White House came to be a price of American democracy. In the psychic of most Americans, the building was not a “palace” native which the chairman ruled but merely a momentary office and also residence native which he served the civilization he governed. The White house belonged to the people, no the president, and also the president inhabited it only for as lengthy as the people permitted him come stay. The idea the a chairman refusing to leave the White residence after shedding an election or an impeachment trial to be unthinkable.

The inauguration of Andrew Jackson (1829–37), the “people’s president,” attracted thousands of well-wishers come the nation’s capital. Together Jackson rode on horseback under Pennsylvania Avenue come the White House, the was surrounding by a frenetic throng that 20,000 people, countless of who attempted to monitor him into the mansion to obtain a far better look at their hero. A contemporary, Margaret Bayer Smith, recounts what occurred next: “The halls to be filled v a disorderly rabble…scrambling for the refreshments designed because that the drawing room.” while friends that the brand-new president joined eight to safeguard him native the mob, “china and glass come the lot of numerous thousand dollars were damaged in the battle to acquire at the ices and also cakes, though punch and also other drinkables had been lugged out in tubs and also buckets to the people.” said Supreme Court justice Joseph Story, “I to be glad come escape indigenous the step as quickly as possible.” throughout his management Jackson spent an ext than $50,000 refurbishing the residence, including $10,000 on decorations for the eastern Room and much more than $4,000 top top a sterling silver- dinner and dessert collection decorated v an American eagle.

In 1842 the visit to the United claims of the English novelist Charles Dickens brought an official invitation come the White House. ~ his calls at the White home door go unanswered, Dickens let himself in and also walked with the mansion indigenous room to room on the lower and upper floors. Ultimately coming top top a room fill with nearly two dozen people, he was shocked and also appalled come see many of them spitting ~ above the carpet. Dickens later wrote, “I take it for granted the Presidential housemaids have high wages.” till the polite War, however, many White home servants to be enslaved people. Moreover, the incomes of all White residence employees—as well together the expenses for to run the White House, including staging main functions—were paid because that by the president. Not until 1909 go Congress provide appropriations to pay White house servants.

Dickens was not the only foreign visitor to it is in disappointed through the White House. On a trip to Washington just before the polite War, Aleksandr Borisovich Lakier, a Russian nobleman, wrote that “the home of the president…is barely clearly shows behind the trees.” The White House, he said, to be “sufficient because that a personal family and also not at every conforming come the expectation of a European.” Subsequent changes to the structure in the 19th century were relatively minor. The internal was redecorated throughout various presidential administrations and contemporary conveniences were frequently added, including a refrigerator in 1845, gas lighting in 1849, and also electric bright in 1891.

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The White home was the scene of mourning ~ the assassination of Pres. Abraham Lincoln (1861–65). While mar Todd Lincoln place in her room for 5 weeks grieving for her husband, plenty of White home holdings were looted. Responding to charges the she had stolen government property when she left the White House, she angrily inventoried every the items she had actually taken with her, including gifts of quilts and waxworks from well-wishers.