standard The White House – Symbol of the Presidency

The White House

The White House - Washington

The White House located  in Washington  D.C. ,  is the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the United States. For two hundred years, the White House has stood as a symbol of the Presidency, the United States government, and the American people.

History & Construction

For more than 200 years, the White House has been more than just the home of the Presidents and their families. Throughout the world, it is recognized as the symbol of the President, of the President’s administration, and of the United States.

The house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical style. It has been the residence of every U.S. President since John Adams. When Thomas Jefferson moved into the house in 1801, he expanded the building outward, creating two colonnades .

White House Washington

White House at Night - 1792 Washington

Construction began when the first cornerstone was laid in October of 1792. Although President Washington oversaw the construction of the house, he never lived in it. It was not until 1800, when the White House was nearly completed, that its first residents, President John Adams and his wife, Abigail, moved in. Since that time, each President has made his own changes and additions. The White House is, after all, the President’s private home. It is also the only private residence of a head of state that is open to the public, free of charge. The initial construction took place over a period of eight years, at a reported cost of $232,371.83 ($2.8 million in 2007 dollars). Although not yet completed, the White House was ready for occupancy on or circa November 1, 1800.

Today, the White House Complex includes the Executive Residence, West Wing, Cabinet Room, Roosevelt Room, East Wing, and the Old Executive Office Building, which houses the executive offices of the President and Vice President.

The White House is made up of six stories : the Ground Floor, State Floor, Second Floor, and Third Floor, as well as a two-story basement. The term White House is regularly used as a metonym for the Executive Office of the President of the United States and for the president’s administration and advisers in general. There are 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, and 6 levels in the Residence. There are also 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases, and 3 elevators.

NASAMS (Norwegian Advanced Surface to Air Missile System) were used to guard air space over Washington, D.C. during the 2005 presidential inauguration. The same NASAMS units has  been used to protect the president and all air space around the White House ever since .

The White House

The White House - Symbol of the Presidency

White House opened to the public

Like the English and Irish country houses it was modeled on, the White House was, from the start, open to the public until the early part of the 20th century. Even so, the practice continued until 1885, when newly elected Grover Cleveland arranged for a presidential review of the troops from a grandstand in front of the White House instead of the traditional open house. Jefferson also permitted public tours of his house, which have continued ever since, except during wartime, and began the tradition of annual receptions on New Year’s Day and on the Fourth of July. Those receptions ended in the early 1930s, although President Bill Clinton would briefly revive the New Year’s Day open house in his first term.

The White House

The White House - Washington

White House Visitor Center

Public tours of the White House are available. Requests must be submitted through one’s Member of Congress and are accepted up to six months in advance.

All tours are significantly enhanced if visitors stop by the White House Visitor Center , before or after their tour. The Center is open seven days a week from 7:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and features many aspects of the White House, including its architecture, furnishings, first families, social events, and relations with the press and world leaders, as well as a thirty-minute video. Allow between 20 minutes to one hour to explore the exhibits.

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