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Monday, August 09, 2010

The White House

What really does The White House mean?

The White House is a building which does not only became a house of the President and his family for over 200 years. Of course the President is meant the President of the United States (USA). Throughout history, this building was known as a symbol of the administrative activities of the President of the United States. In other words, we could call the Presidential Palace or the Presidential Office.

The White House has been the scene of many events in the history of our nation. Here the President holds meetings that decide national and international policy, signs new legislation, and carries out the many duties of the office. Here, too, the President and First Family entertain guests and live their private lives, as every President except George Washington has done. Designed by Irish born architect, James Hoban, the White House contains numerous artworks and fine crafts from every era of American history.

Why was it named White House? (The History of White House)

About the Building

For two hundred years, the White House has stood as a symbol of the Presidency, the United States government, and the American people. Its history, and the history of the nation's capital, began when President George Washington signed an Act of Congress in December of 1790 declaring that the federal government would reside in a district "not exceeding ten miles square…on the river Potomac." President Washington, together with city planner Pierre L’Enfant, chose the site for the new residence, which is now 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. As preparations began for the new federal city, a competition was held to find a builder of the "President’s House." Nine proposals were submitted, and Irish-born architect James Hoban won a gold medal for his practical and handsome design.

Construction began when the first cornerstone was laid in October of 1792. Although President Washington oversaw the construction of the house, he never lived in it. It was not until 1800, when the White House was nearly completed, that its first residents, President John Adams and his wife, Abigail, moved in. Since that time, each President has made his own changes and additions. The White House is, after all, the President’s private home. It is also the only private residence of a head of state that is open to the public, free of charge.

The White House has a unique and fascinating history. It survived a fire at the hands of the British in 1814 (during the war of 1812) and another fire in the West Wing in 1929, while Herbert Hoover was President. Throughout much of Harry S. Truman’s presidency, the interior of the house, with the exception of the third floor, was completely gutted and renovated while the Trumans lived at Blair House, right across Pennsylvania Avenue. Nonetheless, the exterior stone walls are those first put in place when the White House was constructed two centuries ago.

Presidents can express their individual style in how they decorate some parts of the house and in how they receive the public during their stay. Thomas Jefferson held the first Inaugural open house in 1805. Many of those who attended the swearing-in ceremony at the U.S. Capitol simply followed him home, where he greeted them in the Blue Room. President Jefferson also opened the house for public tours, and it has remained open, except during wartime, ever since. In addition, he welcomed visitors to annual receptions on New Year’s Day and on the Fourth of July. In 1829, a horde of 20,000 Inaugural callers forced President Andrew Jackson to flee to the safety of a hotel while, on the lawn, aides filled washtubs with orange juice and whiskey to lure the mob out of the mud-tracked White House.

After Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, Inaugural crowds became far too large for the White House to accommodate them comfortably. However, not until Grover Cleveland’s first presidency did this unsafe practice change. He held a presidential review of the troops from a flag-draped grandstand built in front of the White House. This procession evolved into the official Inaugural parade we know today. Receptions on New Year’s Day and the Fourth of July continued to be held until the early 1930s.

* There are 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, and 6 levels in the Residence. There are also 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases, and 3 elevators.
* At various times in history, the White House has been known as the "President's Palace," the "President's House," and the "Executive Mansion." President Theodore Roosevelt officially gave the White House its current name in 1901.
* Presidential Firsts while in office... President James Polk (1845-49) was the first President to have his photograph taken... President Theodore Roosevelt (1901-09) was not only the first President to ride in an automobile, but also the first President to travel outside the country when he visited Panama... President Franklin Roosevelt (1933-45) was the first President to ride in an airplane.
* With five full-time chefs, the White House kitchen is able to serve dinner to as many as 140 guests and hors d'oeuvres to more than 1,000.
* The White House requires 570 gallons of paint to cover its outside surface.
* For recreation, the White House has a variety of facilities available to its residents, including a tennis court, jogging track, swimming pool, movie theater, and bowling lane.

Rooms in The White House

Oval Office

The President's Oval Office is located on the first floor of the West Wing. President Clinton's historic oak desk was a gift to President Rutherford B. Hayes from Queen Victoria in 1880.

Diplomatic Reception Room

President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Fireside Chats were held in the Diplomatic Reception Room. It is one of three oval shaped rooms in the residence and is furnished as a Federal Period parlor. The panoramic wall paper, printed in France, is entitled "Views of North America", and features Early 19th Century American landscapes.

State Dining Room

The State Dining Room can seat 140 guests. The chandelier dates back to the 1902 renovation by President Theodore Roosevelt.

Red Room

Long a favorite of the First Ladies, the Red Room is used for small receptions and teas. The room is decorated as an American Empire parlor of 1810-30.

The Hallway

The Hallway that extends from the State Dining Room to the East Room displays portraits of recent Presidents.

Blue Room

During State receptions, the President and his wife often receive guests in the Blue Room. It is furnished in the French Empire style, the decor chosen for the room by President James Monroe in 1817. Portraits include John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and John Tyler.

The China Room

The China Room was set aside by Edith Wilson in 1917 for displaying pieces of china and glass used by the Presidents. It contains china, glassware, or silver from almost every past President, and a portrait of Grace Goodhue Coolidge.

The Vermeil Room

The Vermeil Room is used as a sitting room during formal occasions and also houses a collection of vermeil (gilded silver) bequeathed to the White House in 1956. On the south wall hangs the Aaron Shikler portrait of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

1. clinton1.nara.gov


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