The White House is the official residence and workplace of the president of the United States. It is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., and has been the residence of every U.S. president since John Adams in 1800. The term “White House” is often used as a metonym for the president and their advisers
The residence was designed by Irish-born architect James Hoban in the neoclassical style. Hoban modelled the building on Leinster House in Dublin, a building which today houses the Oireachtas, the Irish legislature. 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 in 1909, 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 residence’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“.
Following his April 1789 inauguration, President George Washington occupied two private houses in New York City as the executive mansion. He lived at the first, known as the Franklin House and owned by Treasury Commissioner Samuel Osgood, at 3 Cherry Street through late February 1790. The executive mansion moved to the larger quarters of the Alexander Macomb House at 39–41 Broadway where he stayed, with his wife and a small staff until August 1790. In May 1790, New York began construction of a “proper” house for the presidential mansion, Government House. Washington never used the mansion because it was not completed until after the national capital was moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in December 1790.
The July 1790 Residence Act designated the capital be permanently located in the new Federal District, and temporarily in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for ten years while the permanent capital was built. Philadelphia rented the mansion of the wealthy merchant Robert Morris at 190 High Street (now 524–30 Market Street) as the President’s House, which Washington occupied from November 1790 to March 1797. Since the house was too small to accommodate the thirty people that made up the presidential family, staff, and servants, Washington had it enlarged.
The President’s House in Philadelphia was converted into the Union Hotel, and later used for stores, before being demolished in 1832.
Philadelphia began construction of a much grander presidential mansion several blocks away in 1792. It was nearly completed by the time of Adam’s 1797 inauguration. However, Adams declined to occupy it saying he did not have Congressional authorization to lease the building. It remained vacant until it was sold to the University of Pennsylvania in 1800.