The White House history

The history of the White House dates back to year 1790, when George Washington signed the Residence Act of 1790, which placed the government of the United States in Washington DC. With this, a new residence for the president had to be built.


A design competition was arranged which won by an Irish-born architect named James Hoban, who beat the other eight competitors with his practical and handsome design. Being a true Irishman, Hoban’s design was inspired by the Leinster House in Dublin, Ireland, which later became the seat of the Irish parliament.

Washington himself wasn’t however totally satisfied with Hoban’s plans. Washington though the building was too small to be the home for the head of the new nation. As a reaction to this, Hoban enlarged the building with 30 percent.


The foundation stone of the White House was laid in 1792 and the first residents, the second US president John Adams with family, moved in eight years later. The White House has been the home for the US presidents ever since. When the third president, Thomas Jefferson, moved into the house in 1801, he had the house expanded outward by creating two colonnades which were meant to serve as stables and storage.

Today, these colonnades connect the west- and the east wing with the main residential building. Rumors have it that Jefferson, also being a skilled architect, was one of the eight architects got beaten by Hoban for the main design of the White House.

The War of 1812

During The War of 1812 against the British, the White House was set on fire by the British after a successful attack on Washington DC. The fire destroyed much of the interior and damaged the exterior. The repairation project became a question of national pride, and the building was quickly repaired and began to serve its purpose once again in 1817.

White House expansions

As the White House by then was open to the general public, crowdning within the executive residence itself became a problem during the late 19th century. To solve this, the First Lady Caronline Harrison proposed extensions to the White House, including a National Wing on the east for an historical art gallery, and a wing on the west for official functions.

With the edition of the classic Oval Office a few years later, the West Wing became the official office building for the president and his staff. The East Wing of today was built during the Second World War in order to hide the construction of an underground bunker to be used in emergency situations.

Renovation projects

Throughout the history, the White House has been subject for several smaller renovation projects and fire in the West Wing in 1929 caused futher needs for repairs.

All the restoration projects and expantions of the White House took its toll on the old building’s wooden frame. This forced a major renovation in the mid 20th century, known as the “Truman renovation”, where almost all the interior was renovated and the wooden frame was replaced with a reinforced steel frame.

As a means of preserving the history of the White House, no substantive architectural changes have been made on the main house since the Truman renovation. Every presidential family has made some changes to their private quarters of the White House, but changes to the State Rooms must all be approved by a special committee.

Why visit the White House ?

The White House is one of the most renowned buildings in the world, as it is the working office and the home of the President of the United States. Located on the now famous 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the White House has been the seat of the US Presidential family for more than 200 years and has become a symbol for the United States and its ruling government.

An impressive complex

Today, the White House is a complex of buildings including the Executive Residence, the home of the presidental family. Connected to the main building by the western colonnade is the West Wing; the location of the Oval Office and the the offical office building. On the other side we have the East Wing which includes the office of the First Lady and White House Social Secretary.

The East Wing also holds the bunker, known as the Presidental Emergency Operation Center. The complex is massive. It is made up of six stories; the Ground Floor, State Floor, Second Floor, and Third Floor, as well as a two-story basement.

The building-complex covers 5100 m² and has a total of 132 rooms. There is also plenty of opportunities for leasure activites within the White House, including a tennis court, jogging tracks, a swimming pool, a movie theater, and a bowling lane.

A world famous site

The White House is probably one of the most famous of all US structures. In 2007, it was ranked second on the List of America’s Favorite Architecture, a testament to the popularity of the building.

The White House location

The White House is located in eastern United States, in central Washington D.C. The White House lies on the classic 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. The building is situated close to the National Mall, on a line directly north of the Washington Monument. For the exact location of the White House, check out the location map to the right!

The White House Video

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