White House USA Washington
White House USA
WHITE HOUSE [White House] - official
name of the executive mansion of the President of the United States. It is on
the south side of Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D.C., facing Lafayette Square.
The building, constructed of
Virginia freestone, is of simple and stately design. The porte-cochere on the
north front, which forms the main entrance, is a portico of high Ionic columns
reaching from the ground to the roof pediment; it is balanced by a semicircular
colonnaded balcony on the south with a second-floor porch, completed in 1948.
The main building (four stories
high) is about 170 ft (52 m) long by 85 ft (26 m) wide. The east and west
terraces, the executive office (1902), the east wing (1942), and a penthouse
and a bomb shelter (1952) have been added.
The colonnade at the east end is the
public entrance. The executive office is approached by an esplanade. Large
receptions are usually held in the East Room, which is 40 ft (12 m) by 82 ft
The elliptical Blue Room is the
scene of many social, diplomatic, and official receptions. The Red Room and the
Green Room are used for private and quasi-official gatherings. 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 . Pennsylvania Ave. between the White House and Lafayette Square was
closed to vehicular traffic in 1995 for security reasons.
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