The White House is the official residence of the President of the United States who lives and works in the world-famous mansion. In addition to being the living quarters of the President and the President's family, the White House contains offices where the President and staff members conduct official business.
The White House with its 132 rooms is located on a beautifully landscaped 18-acre plot of land at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The south lawn, sometimes referred to as the President's Park, has many trees and shrubs planted by former Presidents.
The White House, sometimes referred to as the Executive Mansion or the President's House, is a popular tourist attraction and draws more than 1 million visitors each year. Tours are available to the public Tuesday through Saturday between 10:00 a.m. and noon. Tourists desiring to take the special tours should contact members of Congress for tickets.
The main part of the White House is 175 feet long and 85 feet high. The main entrance, a square portico (porch) faces north. An entrance on the south side is a wide curved portico with columns two stories high. There are two long, low galleries on each side of the main building. These galleries are each covered with a terraced roof, which forms a promenade on the first floor.
At the ends of the terraces are the east and west wings. The west wing or executive wing holds the offices of the President and staff and the Cabinet room. The east wing has offices for military aides to the President.
Public tours of the White House enter through the east wing and usually include only five rooms on the first floor: 1) The State Dining Room is located on the west end of the main building. It can accommodate about 140 guests. It was remodeled in 1902. 2) The Red Room walls are covered with red silk. This room is furnished in the style of the 1810-1830 period of time. 3) The Blue Room is the main reception room for the President's guests. The style in this oval room represents the 1817-1825 time period. Much of the furniture in this room was ordered by President James Monroe who lived in the White House during that period of time. 4) The Green Room walls are covered with light green silk moiré. Its décor is in the 1800-1814 style. 5) The East Room is the largest room in the White House, measuring 79 feet long and nearly 37 feet wide. This is the room where guests are entertained following formal dinners. It was remodeled in 1902 and is located at the end of the first floor.
Other rooms on the ground floor include the Diplomatic Reception Room (used as the entrance for formal functions), kitchen, library, and offices of the White House physician and curator. Many of the other rooms in the mansion are used every day by the President, the President's family, their guests, and their staff.
The living quarters for the President and family are located on the second floor. This floor also contains the Lincoln Bedroom, Treaty Room, and Queen's Room. The third floor has rooms for guests and staff quarters. The White House also has a private bowling alley, swimming pool, and movie theater.
The original White House was begun in 1792. President and Mrs. John Adams moved into the White House in 1800 before it was completed. The Adams had many inconveniences, including hanging the family laundry in the East Room.
During the Administration of Thomas Jefferson, the White House became more beautiful and comfortable. It was during his occupancy that the terraces were added at the east and west ends.
President James Madison and his wife Dolley were forced to flee when British forces burned the White House on August 24, 1814, during the War of 1812. The White House was later rebuilt, and President and Mrs. James Monroe moved into it in 1817. The north and south porticos were added in the 1820's.
The White House was repaired during the Administration of President Theodore Roosevelt. The east terrace was rebuilt and the executive wing was added to the west terrace. During the occupancy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the west wing was enlarged and an indoor swimming pool was built. The east wing was enlarged also.
During the Administration of Harry S. Truman (1948-1952), there were extensive repairs made to the White House, and the dangerously weakened building was strengthened with concrete and steel. The third floor became a full third story, and a second-story balcony was added to the south portico for a private area for the President. The basement was also enlarged. These changes brought the total number of rooms from 125 to 132.
During the Administration of John F. Kennedy, Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy endured much criticism in 1961 when she appointed a Fine Arts Committee to restore the White House interior to its original appearance. This included the historical rooms visited by the public, which were basically unchanged until this time.
Other major historical changes took place during the Administration of Richard M. Nixon when Mrs. Patricia Nixon continued Mrs. Kennedy's efforts to restore the White House interior to an early 1800's theme.
Facts for this post came from an article by Clement Ellis Conger in the World Book Encyclopedia
, Vol. 21, pp. 288-292.
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