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The White House

The White House is one of the world's most famous buildings.

The United States' first president, George Washington, selected the site for the White House in 1791.

The first stone was laid on October 13, 1792. It took eight years to finish enough of the house to make it livable. The Capitol Building wasn't completed yet, and congressmen lived in boardinghouses surrounded by farmland. John Adams, the second president of the United States, moved into a cold, damp White House in November 1800. Abigail Adams hung her laundry up to dry in the East Room. She thought it would be bad manners to hang the president's laundry outside.

By the time our third president, Thomas Jefferson, moved into the White House in 1801, most of the outside structures were finished. The White House was the largest residential house in America! Jefferson ordered wallpaper and furniture from France. Every president since has ordered special things for the house. Today, you can see chairs that people sat on more than one hundred years ago! During this time, the building was called the President's Palace, and then the President's House.

White House Facts:

  • There are 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, and 6 levels to accommodate all the people who live in, work in, and visit the White House. There are also 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases, and 3 elevators.
  • The White House has six floors—two basements, two public floors, and two floors for the First Family.
  • At various times in history, the White House has been known as the "President's Palace," the "President's House," and the "Executive Mansion." President Theodore Roosevelt officially gave the White House its current name in 1901.
  • The White House receives approximately 6,000 visitors a day.
  • With five full-time chefs, the White House kitchen is able to serve dinner to as many as 140 guests and hors d'oeuvres to more than 1,000.
  • The White House requires 570 gallons of paint to cover its outside surface.
  • For recreation, the White House has a variety of facilities available to its residents, including a tennis court, a jogging track, a swimming pool, a movie theatre, a billiard room, and a bowling lane.