21006 The White House

Facts

  • Location: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C., USA
  • Architect: James Hoban
  • Style: Neoclassical Federal blended with Irish Palladianism
  • Materials: Steel frame structure, façade of limestone and terra-cotta
  • Size: 5,100m2 (55,000 square feet)
  • Year: Cornerstone laid in October 1792. Full construction completed in 1800

History

Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C., the White House has been at the heart of American history for over two centuries and today is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world.

It is a grand mansion in the neoclassical Federal style, with details that echo classical Greek Ionic architecture. The architect’s original design was modeled after the Leinster House in Dublin, Ireland and did not include the north and south porticos.

The White House has a total of six floors; a two-story basement, the Ground Floor, State Floor, Second Floor and Third Floor. There are 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, and 6 levels in the White House. There are also 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases, and 3 elevators.

The exterior of the White House was expanded to include two colonnades in 1801. Further additions include the South portico in 1824 and the North portico in 1829. Today, the porticos connect to the East and West Wings. The West Wing was added to the house in 1901, with the Oval Office added to the wing in 1909. The East Wing was added in 1942.

Architect

In 1792, the then US Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, announced an architectural competition to produce design drawings for the President's House.  The building was to be more than the home and office of the President; it was to be a symbol of the US presidency.  The President, George Washington, therefore insisted that the design should match the most important buildings in Europe.

On July 16, 1792, President Washington examined the designs submitted to the architectural competition. The winning design was by James Hoban, an Irishman whom the President had actually met a year earlier in Charleston. 

Born in Desart, near Callan, County Kilkenny, Ireland, James Hoban studied architecture at the Royal Dublin Society before emigrating to the United States in 1781. After completing the presidential mansion, Hoben continued to live in the Washington, D.C. area, where he worked on other public buildings and government projects, including the Capitol.

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