51 Interesting Facts About The White House

36. In 1810, the building’s name was changed to Executive Mansion from the original President’s Palace so the name would not bear any ‘connotations of royalty’.

37. Although the name White House was officially adopted, at the behest of President Theodore Roosevelt, only in 1901, it was already in common use from the pre-fire era. Reportedly, people came to refer the building as the ‘white house’ because of the stark contrast its white-grey sandstone presented with the red brick of most adjacent buildings.

38. When the mansion was set on fire on 1812, Dolly Madison, wife of President James Madison, adamantly refused to evacuate the building until a painting of George Washington was saved. She eventually got her way and the said portrait now happens to be the only original piece of furnishing in the house that dates back from the house’s pre-fire era.

President Joe Biden, joined by Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry.
President Joe Biden, joined by Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry, Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen and Director of the National Economic Council Brian Deese, attends the Leaders Summit on Climate Thursday, April 22, 2021, in the East Room of the White House. Image credit – The White House

White House Trivia & Other Facts

39. The White House remains to be the oldest federal building in Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital.

40. Accredited as a museum in 1988, the White House is also one of the most prominent units of the National Capital Parks system.

41. The historic building attracts 1.5 million visitors annually. On a weekly basis, it receives 30,000 visitors, 100,000 unofficial emails and 65,000 letters.

42. The mansion and the surrounding landscaped grounds occupy a total of 18 acres while the house itself encompasses 55,000 sq. ft. Six levels of the residence contain 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 3 elevators, 8 staircases, 28 fireplaces, 147 windows and 412 doors.

43. 570 gallons of paint is required to cover only the outside surface of the White House.

44. The White House kitchen is equipped to serve at a time hors d’oeuvres to more than 1,000 people and dinner to 140 guests.

45. The White House was first made wheelchair accessible to accommodate President Franklin Roosevelt.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wear 3-D glasses while watching a TV commercial-min
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wear 3-D glasses while watching a TV commercial during Super Bowl 43, Arizona Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, in the family theater of the White House on Feb. 1, 2009. Guests included family, friends, Cabinet members, staff members and bipartisan members of Congress. Image credit – Obama White House

46. In addition to a dentist’s office and a flower shop, the White House complex also houses a bowling alley and a movie theater.

47. Contrary to Dickens’ speculation, majority of the White House’s servants until the Civil War comprised of enslaved people and till 1909, wages of all White House staff were paid for by the president.

48. However, till today, the president and the first lady are billed at the end of each month for their meals as well as all other personal items they use during the period.

49. During a crisis, the president meets his advisers in the Situation Room which happens to be located at the basement of the house.

50. Citing concerns about terrorism, part of Pennsylvania Avenue was closed off to vehicular traffic in 1995. Although this sparked protest from various civic groups in the city at the time, the closed off area has since become popular with skaters and pedestrians.

51. Public tour of the White House for a limited number of people is arranged every day. A request for the tour must be made through congressional representatives or, in case of foreign nationals, through their respective embassies. During the tour, a visitor can take still photos using a compact camera, but texting, live streaming, video recordings and flash photography are prohibited. Cell phones are allowed inside but they must be kept switched off during the tour.

The White House – Quick facts and statistics

The cornerstone was laid (construction started)October 13, 1792
Construction completedNovember 1, 1800; 220 years ago
The first inaugural open house1805
The residence’s first flower gardenWas established by John Quincy Adams
Did you know?British soldiers burned the White House in retaliation for an American attack on Toronto.
President John Tyler (1841-1845)The first President to have his photograph taken
President Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909)The first President to ride in an automobile and also the first President to travel outside the country when he visited Panama
President Franklin Roosevelt (1933-1945)The first President to ride in an airplane.
George WashingtonThe only U.S. President to have not lived in the White House.
William Henry Harrison and Zachary Taylor Both died in the White House.
Until 1891The White House was entirely lit by gas lights
Address1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500
Architectural styleNeoclassical, Palladian
Phone Number1-202-456-1414 (Switchboard)
1-202-456-1111 (Comments)
1-202-456-2121 (Visitor's Office)
Data Sourcehttps://clintonwhitehouse4.archives.gov/WH/glimpse/WH_Facts/html/facts.html