Monday, March 7, 2016

15 fun facts about the White House

The White House is one of the most recognized buildings in Washington, D.C. Home to the President of the United States and family, every year many people take a stroll down Pennsylvania Avenue to get a good look at this iconic landmark. 

The White House, Washington, D.C.

15 fun facts about the White House

1. Plans for the presidential house was put into motion in 1791 by George Washington. An architect by the name of James Hoban was chosen to design the home and its cornerstone was laid in 1792. President and Mrs. John Adams were the first to move into the home while it was still being built in 1800. Washington, while instrumental in the planning, was the only president to never live in the White House.

2. The White House is comprised of 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms and has six levels. Incorporated into the structure are a whopping 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases and 3 elevators. Overall, the building is 168 feet (51.2 meters) long and 85 feet, 6 inches (26.1 meters) wide. Square footage totals about 55,000 square feet.

3. The White House sits on 18 acres of land. 

White House views from atop the Washington Monument
This photo of the White House was taken from atop the Washington Monument

4. Burned by the British in 1814 during the War of 1812, the White House was severely damaged. Hoban was again selected to (re)build the president’s home. President Monroe moved into the house in 1817. 

5. The South Portico was built in 1824 and the North Portico in 1829.

6. President Theodore Roosevelt implemented some major renovations for the White House including relocation of the presidential office into what is now known as the “West Wing”. Long-referred to as the “White House”, it was President Roosevelt who finally had this name officially dubbed. Prior to that time it was often referred to as "President's House", "Executive Mansion" and "President's Palace".

7. President William Howard Taft added the Oval Office to the West Wing and expanded it. Fast-forward five decades and the home has severe structural weakness and President Harry S. Truman administers a major restoration. The exterior walls are still original, but the interior was redone.
White House view from Constitution Avenue

8. It takes 570 gallons of paint to cover the exterior of the White House. (Wonder how long that takes to complete?)

9. Did you know the White House has its own bowling lane, movie theatre, swimming pool and tennis courts?

10. President Andrew Jackson was the first president to greet a professional baseball team at the White House. This meeting took place in 1865, four months after the Civil War ended. It was the Washington Nationals and Brooklyn Atlantics who met with the president. 

11. The White House was upgraded to include electricity in 1891. It was installed by The Edison Company. Then-President and Mrs. Benjamin Harrison are said to have been fearful of using it. 

12. The street in front of the White House is closed to traffic. Years ago cars and buses were able to drive by the president's home to sight-see, but this is no longer possible. Today 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW is only accessible by foot traffic (or official motor vehicles who are part of security or let in for other reasons), the section was closed off for security reasons in 1995 during the Clinton Administration and was made a permanent closure during the Bush (George) administration after Sept. 11, 2001.

13. Pedestrians are still welcome to walk by the White House, however, in the last year or two additional barriers have been placed between the main fence surrounding the home and the street. These additional fences were added after a few breaches of security occurred when trespassers illegally entered or attempted to enter White House property. 

14. It is common to see protesters and activists voicing their concerns in front of the White House (I've personally seen many. Some are organized rallies or gatherings, others quietly or loudly carry signage. Still others march by, have their say and move on). 

March against Monsanto activists in Washington DC
Crowd gathers for a rally to protest GMOs in front of the White House in 2013

15. Visitors are welcomed to visit the inside of the White House, however there are restrictions in doing so and permission has to be given. The only times the White House has been closed to the public was during wartime and then again in 2013 during the time surrounding the U.S. government shutdown. To learn how to make arrangements and to read tour information, visit the official White House web page for specifics.

Hope you enjoyed these fun facts! Thanks for visiting and, if you’re interested, please check out other landmark fun facts and information about this historic city, homes, festivals and other things to see and do in DC and Northern Virginia. You can use the search box to the right of this post. 

White House, January 2013
Taken just before President Obama started his second term. Here the White House is set up for the upcoming inauguration.


  1. Fantastic post. I really enjoyed it.

    1. I'm so glad you liked it. Thanks so much for visiting and also sharing a comment.