Theme Week Washington, D.C. – The White House

Friday, 31 March 2017 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Palaces, Castles, Manors, Parks
Reading Time:  8 minutes

© Matt H. Wade/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Matt H. Wade/cc-by-sa-3.0

The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the United States, located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C. It has been the residence of every U.S. president since John Adams in 1800. The term White House is often used as a metonymy to refer to actions of the president and his advisers, as in “The White House announced that…”. The residence was designed by Irish-born architect James Hoban in the Neoclassical style. Construction took place between 1792 and 1800 using Aquia Creek sandstone painted white. When Thomas Jefferson moved into the house in 1801, he (with architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe) added low colonnades on each wing that concealed stables and storage. In 1814, during the War of 1812, the mansion was set ablaze by the British Army in the Burning of Washington, destroying the interior and charring much of the exterior. Reconstruction began almost immediately, and President James Monroe moved into the partially reconstructed Executive Residence in October 1817. Exterior construction continued with the addition of the semi-circular South portico in 1824 and the North portico in 1829.

Because of crowding within the executive mansion itself, President Theodore Roosevelt had all work offices relocated to the newly constructed West Wing in 1901. Eight years later, President William Howard Taft expanded the West Wing and created the first Oval Office, which was eventually moved as the section was expanded. In the main mansion, the third-floor attic was converted to living quarters in 1927 by augmenting the existing hip roof with long shed dormers. A newly constructed East Wing was used as a reception area for social events; Jefferson’s colonnades connected the new wings. East Wing alterations were completed in 1946, creating additional office space. By 1948, the house’s load-bearing exterior walls and internal wood beams were found to be close to failure. Under Harry S. Truman, the interior rooms were completely dismantled and a new internal load-bearing steel frame constructed inside the walls. Once this work was completed, the interior rooms were rebuilt. The modern-day White House complex includes the Executive Residence, West Wing, East Wing, the Eisenhower Executive Office Building—the former State Department, which now houses offices for the President’s staff and the Vice President—and Blair House, a guest residence. The Executive Residence is made up of six stories—the Ground Floor, State Floor, Second Floor, and Third Floor, as well as a two-story basement. The property is a National Heritage Site owned by the National Park Service and is part of the President’s Park. In 2007, it was ranked second on the American Institute of Architects list of “America’s Favorite Architecture“. Today the group of buildings housing the presidency is known as the White House Complex. It includes the central Executive Residence flanked by the East Wing and West Wing. The Chief Usher coordinates day to day household operations. The White House includes: six stories and 55,000 ft² (5,100 m²) of floor space, 132 rooms and 35 bathrooms, 412 doors, 147 windows, twenty-eight fireplaces, eight staircases, three elevators, five full-time chefs, a tennis court, a (single-lane) bowling alley (officially called the Harry S. Truman Bowling Alley), a movie theater (officially called the White House Family Theater), a jogging track, a swimming pool, and a putting green. It receives up to 30,000 visitors each week.

The White House © flickr.com - Alex Proimos/cc-by-2.0 President's Park with White House © Ad Meskens/cc-by-sa-3.0 President Barack Obama and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs walk through the White House Rose Garden © The White House - Pete Souza © Matt H. Wade/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Library of Congress - Carol M. Highsmith Beekeeper Charlie Brandts works on the South Grounds of the White House © The White House - Pete Souza First Lady Michelle Obama and White House Chef Sam Kass show Bancroft students how to plant a garden in the White House Vegetable Garden‎ © The White House - Samantha Appleton White House Rose Garden and West Colonnade © National Park Service - Donna Spiewak © Ingfbruno/cc-by-sa-3.0 Oval Office - President Barack Obama on the phone with President Raúl Castro © flickr.com - Pete Souza © The White House
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First Lady Michelle Obama and White House Chef Sam Kass show Bancroft students how to plant a garden in the White House Vegetable Garden‎ © The White House - Samantha Appleton
Following his April 1789 inauguration, President George Washington occupied two executive mansions in New York City: the Samuel Osgood House at 3 Cherry Street (April 1789 – February 1790), and the Alexander Macomb House at 39–41 Broadway (February – August 1790). In May 1790, New York began construction of Government House for his official residence, but he never occupied it. The national capital moved to Philadelphia in December 1790. The July 1790 Residence Act named Philadelphia in Pennsylvania the temporary national capital for a 10-year period while the Federal City was under construction. The City of Philadelphia rented Robert Morris‘s city house at 190 High Street (now 524–30 Market Street) for Washington’s presidential residence. The first president occupied the Market Street mansion from November 1790 to March 1797, and altered it in ways that may have influenced the design of the White House. As part of a futile effort to have Philadelphia named the permanent national capital, Pennsylvania built a much grander presidential mansion several blocks away, but Washington declined to occupy it. President John Adams also occupied the Market Street mansion from March 1797 to May 1800. On Saturday, November 1, 1800, he became the first president to occupy the White House. The President’s House in Philadelphia became a hotel and was demolished in 1832, while the unused presidential mansion became home to the University of Pennsylvania.

The President’s House was a major feature of Pierre Charles L’Enfant‘s’ plan for the newly established federal city, Washington, D.C. ( L’Enfant Plan). The architect of the White House was chosen in a design competition which received nine proposals, including one submitted anonymously by Thomas Jefferson. President Washington visited Charleston in, South Carolina in May 1791 on his “Southern Tour”, and saw the under-construction Charleston County Courthouse designed by Irish architect James Hoban. He is reputed to have met with Hoban then. The following year, he summoned the architect to Philadelphia and met with him in June 1792. On July 16, 1792, the President met with the commissioners of the federal city to make his judgment in the architectural competition. His review is recorded as being brief, and he quickly selected Hoban’s submission. Washington was not entirely pleased with the original submission, however; he found it too small, lacking ornament, and not monumental enough to house the nation’s president. On his recommendation, the house was changed from three stories to two, and was widened from a nine-bay facade to an 11-bay facade. Hoban’s competition drawings do not survive. The building has classical inspiration sources, that could be found directly or indirectly in the Roman architect Vitruvius or in Andrea Palladio styles; Palladio being an Italian architect of the Renaissance which had a considerable influence on the Western architecture (Palladian architecture). The building Hoban designed is verifiably influenced by the upper floors of Leinster House, in Dublin, which later became the seat of the Oireachtas (the Irish parliament). Several other Georgian-era Irish country houses have been suggested as sources of inspiration for the overall floor plan, details like the bow-fronted south front, and interior details like the former niches in the present Blue Room. These influences, though undocumented, are cited in the official White House guide, and in White House Historical Association publications. The first official White House guide, published in 1962, suggested a link between Hoban’s design for the South Portico and Château de Rastignac, a neoclassical country house located in La Bachellerie in the Dordogne region of France and designed by Mathurin Salat.

Read more on White House, White House Museum, Pete Souza and Wikipedia White House (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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