Why Was the White House Painted White?

whitehouseThe building itself is well known throughout the world, but there are some facts about the White House that people may not be aware of. In fact there are some conflicting stories about it, especially why it is white.

Why is it White?

Tradition states that the edifice was originally grey in color. However the building was burned down in 1814 by the British. This was in retaliation for the burning done by the Americans during the 1812 conflict. To cover the burn marks, the entire building was repainted white all over.

But some contend that the building was already white years before the burning incident (in 1798 to be exact). According to the story, it was painted white to preserve the sandstone used to build it. If this is indeed the fact about the White House, then it was already white years before the burning.

The Naming

The name itself didn’t become official until 1901 with the decree of President Theodore Roosevelt. It was originally called the President’s House and there are actually some disagreements as to how it got the name. The most popular explanation is that it was so called due to its color. Others however, claim that the name was taken from the White House Plantation where George Washington met his wife.

A Short History

The idea for the building came from George Washington. Its planning was supervised by Charles L’ Enfant. The design was conceptualized by James Hoban and work started in 1792. It took eight years to finish. The facts about the White House will show that Washington didn’t actually reside in it. The first to do so was President John Adams in 1800.

Over the years, several parts were added to the complex. The west wing was added in 1902, which would become the focal point of the President’s activities. During the war years (1942) the east wing was added. In 1952 a bomb shelter was added as the Cold War intensified. Through the years there have been renovations done, some of the most extensive ones taking place in 1948-52.

Facts and Figures

There are 132 rooms in the edifice. There are also over 30 bathrooms, 8 stairways, and 28 fireplaces. There are 5 chefs working there. The facts about the White House will show it can also cater and serve up to 140 people.

570 gallons of paint were used on the outer façade alone. The second and third floors are the residence of the First Family. The ground floor is used for numerous functions. The west wing houses the Oval Office and where most of the staff is based. The East Room is where guests are hosted.

Other Information

The records will show that President James Polk was the first one to have his picture taken in the building. President Theodore Roosevelt (1901-09) became the first one to go on a foreign trip while staying in the residence. While Theodore Roosevelt was the first to go there in a car, Franklin Roosevelt was the first to fly in a plane.

The facts about the White House reveal a lot of interesting details about US history in general. For all the figures though, its meaning remains the same: it is where the President resides and vital policies are made.

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