The White House: The history of the US seat of government

by Johannes

The White House is the famous residence of the presidents of the United States of America. The story of how it came to be is definitely exciting

White House: facts and figures

What would seem strange in Germany has long been the norm in the USA: all sitting presidents move into the same house in Washington D.C. during their term of office: The White House. Alongside other important political buildings such as the Pentagon, the U.S. Capitol and the UN headquarters, it is one of the most famous buildings in the USA. But how and when did it come about that there is a designated residence for the President of the United States of America?

  • The White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC in the USA has been the designated residence of all subsequent presidents since June 1791.
  • What was decided in 1791 was built for almost 9 years and completed in 1800. To plan the building, George Washington, the first US president, put out a call for tenders to find someone to design a general seat of government. An Irishman was chosen to be the master builder: James Hoban.
  • Washington did not make it to the completion of the building, instead the second American president John Adams moved in as the first resident.
  • Everything went well for 14 years before the White House was completely burnt down in 1814 due to a war with Great Britain. This time it only took James Hoban three years to rebuild the entire White House.
  • In 1901, Theodore Roosevelt wanted to renovate and partially extend the building. He also officially defined the term “White House”. Previously, it had been referred to in different ways and was only called “The White House” in a colloquial sense.
  • About 50 years later, it was renovated again under Harry Truman. Apart from the foundation walls, almost nothing has remained as it was.
  • There are now 132 rooms in the White House, 35 of which are bathrooms.

Other things to know about the White House

The White House has been through a lot. Not just the fires, but the fact that every president wanted to leave their fingerprint.

  • Richard Nixon wanted a bowling alley in the White House – and he got one. In addition to a place to play tennis, a large pool and his own cinema room, there has also been a bowling alley ever since.
  • Barack Obama added a basketball court during his time in office. He also has his own doctor’s surgery and flower store.
  • The East Room is located in the main building, where guests are welcomed or invited to press conferences.
  • In 1960, it was even decided to make the White House a National Historic Landmark. This means that it is a building with special significance for US history.
  • The Office of the President is the so-called Oval Office, which has existed in this form since William Howard Taft. This is where treaties are signed, agreements negotiated and TV speeches made
  • One of the presumably several secret passages leads from the Oval Office to a security bunker. George W. Bush is said to have used this on September 11, 2001 and Donald Trump in January 2020 during the storming of the Capitol.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment