There’s a new man in town—and he’s moving into the White House.
The White House is the most iconic piece of architecture in American history. Because we draw so much inspiration from it, and in honor of the upcoming inauguration, we thought we would look into the White House history.
The White House was originally designed for a contest held by Congress in 1790. They wanted to see who would be able to design the best home for the President of the United States. No pressure, right. Irish-born architect James Hoban won, and the current White House looks very similar to what was first constructed.
During the War of 1812, the building was set on fire by the British. President James Madison oversaw the reconstruction, but refused to tear down the original walls of the building. After the reconstruction, President James Monroe decorated the interiors with elegant gilded French furniture, much of which remains in the White House today.
When President Theodore Roosevelt came to live in the White House with his large family, he realized the need for expansion. He oversaw the addition of the West Wing, where he moved his presidential office and the cabinet room. Later, President Franklin Roosevelt would oversee the addition of the East Wing.
President Harry Truman renovated the entire building in the 1950s to ensure structural integrity. Like President Madison, he refused to tear down the white walls that Hoban had built 150 years previously.
No major architectural changes have been made since FDR, but each President and his family make plenty of changes to the interiors to reflect the style of the time.
Now, the White House has 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, and 6 residence levels, as well as 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases, and 3 elevators. It also has a movie theater, swimming pool, jogging track and a bowling alley! Talk about the perfect place to live.
Hoban’s original construction remains in place today after nearly 230 years. And in spite of this symbol’s many renovations, the United States White House has always remained just that: white.