White House

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White House
White House
Exterior views of the White House (central building; north view (top) and south view (bottom))

Exterior views of the White House
(central building; north view (top) and south view (bottom))

place Washington, DC
builder James Hoban
Construction year 1800/1817
height 21.33 m
Floor space 16,764 m²
Coordinates 38 ° 53 '51.3 "  N , 77 ° 2' 11.7"  W Coordinates: 38 ° 53 '51.3 "  N , 77 ° 2' 11.7"  W.
White House White House (District of Columbia)
White House White House
Official and government seat of the President of the United States
National Historic Landmark

The White House (English White House ) in Washington, DC is the official seat of the President of the United States . As a metonym it is named for the staff of the US President, the Executive Office of the President of the United States , also usually referred to as the "White House". Sometimes the entire US government is also meant, comparable to the terms 10 Downing Street or historically Wilhelmstrasse .

The White House is located on Pennsylvania Avenue and is number 1600. It was officially named in 1901 by Theodore Roosevelt because of its white exterior; it was probably known colloquially as the white house before. The white villa, which is mostly depicted in the media, is only the middle part of the White House Complex . A gallery ( English collonade ) connects the main building and the west wing ; another main house and east wing East Wing . To the west of the west wing is the Eisenhower Executive Office Building ; West Executive Avenue runs in between .


France, Château de Rastignac (1812–1817) by Mathurin Salat
The White House still without side wings (1807)
The White House in a Rural Setting (1833)
The White House (19th century illustration)
Interior view (approx. 1860–1880)

The location of the White House was chosen by President George Washington and city planner Pierre L'Enfant . The Irish architect James Hoban took the Leinster House (1745–1748) in Dublin , the seat of the Irish Parliament since 1922 , as a model. The foundation stone for the first building was laid on October 13, 1792. The structure was built from Aquia Creek sandstone quarried in a quarry 45 miles away . It took eight years to build and cost $ 232,371 (in today's purchasing power: around $ 3.35 million). The White House was first used on November 1, 1800.

At the French Château de Rastignac (1811–1817) in La Bachellerie , historians argue about whether it served as a model for the later renovations at the White House or the other way around. An indication of the former could be that Thomas Jefferson , who continued the construction of the White House, was the American ambassador to France for some time and since then has been advised on his construction tasks by the French architect Charles-Louis Clérisseau .

In 1814 it was burned down by British forces in the War of 1812 . The reconstruction in the classical style began in 1819 and was led again by James Hoban. Smoke damage was whitewashed white. In 1824 the south portico and in 1829 the north portico of the structure were redesigned and redesigned with free-standing columns made of Seneca sandstone from Maryland . In 1901 Theodore Roosevelt had the building renovated and the west wing with an office wing added; It was also Roosevelt who officially named the building the "White House". The presidential Oval Office was built in 1909 on the initiative of William Howard Taft . On December 24, 1929, a fire damaged the west wing.

View of the interior construction work during the Truman reconstruction (1950)

After World War II, the White House was in disrepair. It had been poorly maintained for years and was seriously damaged. Some of the foundations were assessed as undersized in 1948. Under President Harry S. Truman it was completely renovated from 1949 to 1952 ( Truman reconstruction ). It was completely gutted ; then the internal structure (now in reinforced concrete) was rebuilt. During construction, the government's office was in Blair House ; on March 27, 1952, he was transferred back to the White House.

With the exception of George Washington , every US President has lived in the White House . On June 2, 1886, President Grover Cleveland became the first and so far only President to marry his wife Frances Folsom, 28 years his junior, in the White House. Between 1812 and 1994 a total of 17 marriages were concluded there, often by the daughters of incumbent presidents, including Tricia Nixon Cox , Lynda Johnson Robb and Alice Roosevelt Longworth .

The Cleveland's second daughter, Esther (1893–1980), is the only child born in the White House to date.

It has been a National Historic Landmark since December 19, 1960 .

Today's White House

The property has 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 412 doors, 147 windows, 8 stairwells, 3 elevators, a swimming pool, a tennis court, a cinema and a bowling alley set up under President Richard Nixon . Barack Obama had a basketball court built.

The so-called Executive Mansion (main building) as well as the West Wing (west wing) and the East Wing (east wing), which were attached to the white villa inconspicuously, now belong to the White House property. The Executive Mansion houses the representative state rooms on the first floor. Well known is the East Room , the largest room in the White House, where receptions, press conferences, concerts and balls take place. State banquets are mostly held in the State Dining Room . The presidential family's private apartment is on the second floor. The offices of the President , the First Lady and their employees are located in the attached outbuildings .

The White House is surrounded by several gardens, including:

Since 1923 the National Christmas Tree has been festively decorated at the White House during Advent . The work, which is under the direction of the respective First Lady , is accompanied by a month-long festivity, the so-called Pageant of Peace (for example: a show of peace). The switching on of the lights is broadcast on the television. Smaller Christmas trees nearby and other decorations leading up to the National Christmas Tree are known as the Pathway to Peace .


The north front of the White House has three floors. The ground floor is hidden by the higher floor and a parapet. In front of the three central windows there is a prostylos as a vestibule, which was added around 1830. The windows on the first floor have alternating pointed and semicircular gables . The main entrance in the middle of the portico is surmounted by a lunette-like window and an arched flower relief. The roof line is hidden by the balustrade surrounding the more modern third floor .

The south facade is a combination of Palladianism and Neoclassicism . All three floors of the facade are visible here. The masonry on the ground floor is rusticated . In the center of the facade is a neoclassical protruding arch with three windows. The arch is flanked by five windows, which on the first floor, like those of the north facade, have alternating semicircular and pointed gables. From the ground floor of the arch, two stairs lead to an Ionic pillared loggia with the Truman Balcony on the second floor.

Urban development

Along with the Capitol, the White House is one of the most important focal points of the diagonal avenues and large green spaces that run through Washington as visual axes . The urban planning concept for this arrangement is based on the Plan of the City of Washington published in 1792 by urban planner Pierre L'Enfant . The fan-shaped floor plan of the city of Karlsruhe is considered a source of inspiration for this urban planning .


Executive Residence (Villa)

  • Living quarters of the president and his family
  • East Room , the largest representative room in the presidential seat. It is used for a wide variety of events, such as press conferences, receptions, balls or large state dinners. The East Room, next to the Oval Office, is probably the most well-known room in the White House for television and media, next to the Oval Office . In the East Room hangs a copy of the Lansdowne portrait of the first President of the United States, George Washington. As the name suggests, the room is located on the east side of the so-called State Floor on the first floor, where the representative state rooms are located. The East Room has been the scene of private and highly official events throughout its history. For example, weddings of children of the presidential families have already taken place here. President Gerald Ford was sworn in here in 1974 after Richard Nixon's resignation as President. All presidents who died in office, such as Abraham Lincoln in 1865 and John F. Kennedy in 1963, were laid out here.
  • State Dining Room
  • Porcelain room in the basement, where the White House porcelain collection is kept and exhibited. The room was furnished under the former First Lady Edith Wilson and is said to contain porcelain that dates back to the time of the first US President George Washington .

West Wing

East Wing

Safety precautions

The White House and the surrounding area is a high-security zone that is equipped with the most modern security systems. The following measures and facilities protect the White House:

Most likely there are other security measures in place, but these are not publicly known.


  • The color of the White House is a creamy white called Whisper White . The paint used for the paint consisting of silicate paint comes from the production of the Keimfarben company based in Diedorf near Augsburg .
  • A picture of the White House can be seen on the back of the US $ 20 bill .
  • When Barack Obama took office, the whitehouse.gov content was placed under a Creative Commons license, unless it was in the public domain as works by US officials . Before Donald Trump took office , the websites were archived as obamawhitehouse.archives.gov .
  • Based on the White House, in some cases the residences that are privately owned by the respective President of the USA, which, like Camp David, are occasionally used for state visits, are referred to as Western White House . B. Ronald Reagan spent much of the presidency at his Rancho del Cielo .


  • Frank Freidel, William Pencak (Ed.): The White House. The First Two Hundred Years. University Press, Boston / Mass. 1994, ISBN 1-55553-170-9 .
  • Barry H. Landau: The president's table. 200 years of dining and diplomacy. HarperCollins, New York 2007, ISBN 0-06-089910-7 .
  • William Seale: The president's house. A history. University Press, Baltimore, Md. 2008, ISBN 0-8018-8597-3 (2 volumes.).
  • Margaret Truman : The President's House: 1800 to the Present The Secrets and History of the World's Most Famous Home. Ballantine Books, New York City 2005, ISBN 0-345-47248-9 .

Web links

Commons : White House  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

The White House as a 3D model in SketchUp's 3D warehouse

Individual evidence

  1. Berlin-Mitte: A quarter as a showcase for democracy , Der Tagesspiegel , September 23, 2017
  2. The first address in the USA. In: derStandard.at
  3. Betsy Klein: The Stone that built the White House , December 29, 2017, at edition.cnn.com. Retrieved December 29, 2017
  4. Overview of the White House. White House Museum, accessed November 9, 2007 .
  5. Michael Johnson: A chateau fit for a president , New York Times, September 15, 2006.
  6. Architecture: 1790s-1840s , to whitehousehistory.org. Retrieved March 4, 2019
  7. www.whitehousehistory.org
  8. Also known as White House Reconstruction in English-speaking countries .
  9. whitehousehistory.org
  10. Listing of National Historic Landmarks by State: District of Columbia. National Park Service , accessed July 19, 2019.
  11. Official text: There are 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, and 6 levels in the Residence. There are also 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases, and 3 elevators. whitehouse.gov ( Memento from March 17, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  12. ^ "Dribbling in the White House" ( Memento from August 1, 2012 in the web archive archive.today ), Financial Times Deutschland, January 21, 2009, accessed on January 25, 2009.
  13. The White House: The Most Important Facts. In: Kabel Eins Doku. ProSieben Sat.1 Media SE, accessed on October 24, 2020 .
  14. Mark Abadi, Taylor Borden: 15 Unknown Rooms in the White House. In: Business Insider. August 23, 2020, accessed October 24, 2020 .
  15. Tour of the White House. In: RP Online. Retrieved October 24, 2020 .
  16. ^ White House Exterior Paint
  17. Charlotte Simonyi: The whiteness comes from Bavaria . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. October 6, 2016, p. 17.
  18. Barack Obama relies on Creative Commons. In: golem.de , January 22, 2009.
  19. ^ Barack Obama ea: Yes, we did. Yes, we can. In: ObamaWhiteHouse. NARA , January 20, 2017, accessed on January 26, 2017 (English, historical material “frozen in time”).
  20. Reagan designates ranch a Western White House. In: The New York Times.