Aug 4, 2007

The White House

The White House of Washington is the official residence of the President of United States of America. George Washington was the only exception, who stayed in the President's House at the temporary capital Philadelphia.

The site of White House was chosen in 1790 by president George Washington and Pierre l'Enfant, the architect who created the master plan for the new capital. A competition held for the design of the new President's House. The winner was James Hoban, an architect of Irish descent. His neo-classical design is presumably based on the Leinster House in Dublin.

Construction of White House was started in 1792 and in 1800, when the building was almost completed, president John Adams moved in. Ever since, each President of the United States has lived in the White House. In 1814, British troops invaded the city and torched several buildings, including the Capital, the Treasury, the War Department and the White House. Then, James Hoban rebuilt the White House, of which only the outer walls were still standing, according to the original plans.

Most people thinks that the building was first painted white after it was rebuilt in 1817, but already in 1798 it was made white by a protective lime-based whitewash. It wasn't named White House from the beginning though: it was originally named the 'President's Palace', 'President's House' or 'Executive Mansion'. It was soon nicknamed 'White House' and in 1901 president Theodore Roosevelt announced it as the official name.

The White House has been extended and modified many times. The most important extensions were the addition of the East Wing and the West Wing. The West Wing contains the famous 'Oval Office', the President's main office. The building contains a total of 132 rooms, some of them can be visited on a tour, including the Green Room, Blue Room, Red Room and State Dining Room.

The garden around the White House was first planted by John Adams. Later, it was redesigned by many presidents and first ladies. The most famous part of the garden was added in 1913 by Ellen Wilson, wife of president Woodrow Wilson. She created a Rose Garden. Later, Rose Garden was redesigned and used as a venue for official ceremonies by President Kennedy. It is located just outside the Oval Office.

President Thomas Jefferson first allowed public tours of the White House in 1805. But since September 11, 2001 public tours have been suspended. Still, US residents can arrange group tours of 10 or more people through their member of Congress.


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