The Presidential Mansion, also known as the White House, is the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the United States of America. It sits on a sprawling lawn located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC.
The nation’s first president, George Washington, opened a design competition for the Presidential Mansion and personally picked the design of Irish architect, James Hoban, as the winning entry among eight other proposals. Hoban’s design features a late Georgian style, influenced by the first and second floors of Leinster House, in Dublin, Ireland. He received a $500 gold medal and a plot of land as a prize from Thomas Jefferson. Construction started on October 13, 1792 and was ready for occupancy on or circa November 1, 1800. The initial construction took place over a period of eight years, at a reported cost of $232,371.83 ($2.4 million in 2005 dollars). John Adams was the first president who took residence at the Presidential Mansion.
After the fire of 1814, a legend emerged that during the rebuilding of the structure white paint was applied to mask the burn damage it had suffered. From then on, the structure had been painted white, giving the building its namesake hue.
Through the years, several restoration work and expansion programs were carried out to create additional office space to what is now known as the White House Complex. At present, the complex includes the Executive Residence (in which the First Family resides), the West Wing (where the Oval Office, Cabinet Room, and Roosevelt Room are located), and the East Wing (the location of the office of the First Lady and White House Social Secretary), as well as the Old Executive Office Building, which houses the executive offices of the President and Vice President.
Other interesting facts about the White House:
- The State Floor of the residence building includes the East Room, Green Room, Blue Room, Red Room, State Dining Room, Family Dining Room, Cross Hall, Entrance Hall, and Grand Staircase.
- The Ground Floor is made up of the Diplomatic Reception Room, Map Room, China Room, Vermeil Room, Library, the main kitchen, and other offices.
- The Second Floor family residence includes the Yellow Oval Room, East and West Sitting Halls, the White House Master Bedroom, President’s Dining Room, the Treaty Room, Lincoln Bedroom and Queens Bedroom. There are also two additional bedrooms, a smaller kitchen, and a private dressing room.
- The Third Floor consists of the White House Solarium, Game Room, Linen Room, a Diet Kitchen, and another sitting room (which President George W. Bush used as a workout room).
- Only five rooms in the White House are open to public visits: the Blue Room, the East Room, the Green Room, the Red Room and the State Dining Room.
- There are a total of 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases, and 3 elevators, a tennis court, a bowling alley, a movie theater, a jogging track, a swimming pool, and a ‘putting’ green in the Presidential Mansion.