The White House, designated
the Palace in the original plans, was designed by James Hoban on a site chosen by George Washington. It is the oldest public building in Washington, its cornerstone having been laid in 1792. John Adams was the first President to live there (1800). The building was restored after being burned (1814) by British troops, and the smoke-stained gray stone walls were painted white. Despite popular myth the cognomen
White House was applied to the building some time before it was painted. The name became official when President Theodore Roosevelt had it engraved upon his stationery. Part of the house was rebuilt (1949–52) on a steel-supporting frame.
The grounds, which cover about 18 acres (7 hectares), are attractive with broad lawns, fountains, trees, and gardens. They were planned by Andrew Jackson Downing. The White House and its grounds are part of the larger President's Park, c.82 acres (33 hectares), which also includes Lafayette Square, the Ellipse, and the White House Visitor Center. Pennsylvania Ave. between the White House and Lafayette Square was closed to vehicular traffic in 1995 for security reasons.
See P. Wolff, A Tour of the White House with Mrs. John F. Kennedy (1962); C. Hurd, The White House Story (1966); W. Seale, The White House (1992).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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