Facts About the Construction of the White House


The White House gets its name from its protective coating. In 1798, a lime-based whitewash was used to prevent damage from moisture and winter cracking. President Theodore Roosevelt made its name official in 1901.


Choosing a Location

The White House was completed in 1791. It was built amidst the immense struggle that followed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. America’s capital was born out of war. In fact, it was burned down during the War of 1812.

Between 1776 and 1791, the location of the capital moved several times. It existed in Philadelphia and New York City among several other northeastern locations. Amidst war and struggle, Washington D.C. was chosen as the permanent location. It was here that the White House would stand the test of time and conflict.


Breaking Ground

President George Washington, a general and war hero, made the site recommendation. Construction began the following year and took eight years to complete. President John Adams was the first to administer his office from the White House.


Rebuilding the White House

The War of 1812 left the White House severely burned. James Hoban was called upon again to rebuild his damaged masterpiece. This time, President James Monroe begins leading the office from the site the world knows today.


Installing Plumbing

With America’s success came the chance to modernize the White House. Plumbing began being added between 1825 and 1829. At this time, water was provided for the grounds from the neighboring Treasury building. Water was piped in during 1833 for a bathing room in the East Wing. By the mid-1850’s, the White House included luxurious baths and second-floor bathing facilities.


Major Renovations

A major renovation followed the official naming of the White House in 1902. These, in addition to the plumbing, were among the first significant changes since the completion of the rebuilding in 1817. The renovation included:

  • an elevator
  • electric lights
  • rebuilding the East Terrace
  • enlarging the State Dining Room
  • tennis courts
  • West Wing

The West Wing evolved from the temporary executive building that was erected during the renovation. Swimming pools were added in 1933 (indoor) and 1975 (outdoor).

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