History of the White House: facts and trivia you didn’t know about the building

When was the White House built?

George Washington recognized the need for a presidential home and even chose the site for the White House in 1791, but he never lived in it. Construction on the building began in 1792 with the ceremonial laying of the cornerstone, but eight years later, when President John Adams was elected, the house was still unfinished. Adams and his wife, Abigail, moved in anyway, becoming the first residents in the White House’s history, and work continued around them until construction on the White House was completed in the late 1800s. Stunning: With six floors spanning a total of 55,000 square feet, it houses 132 bedrooms, 35 bathrooms, 28 fireplaces, eight staircases, three elevators, and 412 doors. No wonder it took so long to build.

Who lives in the White House?

In addition to the president and his family, a variety of animals – some of them quite exotic – have called the White House home over the years. At first, farm animals were kept on White House property, as they were on many properties in the 19th century. President Woodrow Wilson owned a flock of sheep that kept the grass well trimmed. On the less practical side, John Quincy Adams had a pet crocodile, Calvin Coolidge had a pet raccoon, and Martin Van Buren owned two tiger cubs, a gift from the Sultan of Oman.

Perhaps one of the strangest things to take up space in the White House was a two-ton block of cheese. A gift from Andrew Jackson’s admirers in rural New York’s dairy industry, the huge block of cheese made a short tour of the East Coast before arriving at the White House. Jackson kept the huge block of cheese on display at the White House for a year before opening the doors and inviting the entire city to a cheese feast. The guests ate their fill and even cut small blocks of cheese to take home and by the end of the night there was only one small slice of cheese left.

The Weirdest Things That Happened at the White House

President Teddy Roosevelt was known for his manly pursuits, and one of his favorite pastimes was boxing, so he built a boxing ring right in the White House. He regularly trained with a number of young servicemen, and once in 1908 the 50-year-old president was hit in the left eye so hard that his retina detached. He was literally blinded. He kept the incident a secret for years and never named his sparring partner to save the youngster from the scorn he may have received for hurting the popular president.

When country music legend Willie Nelson visited the White House in 1977, President Jimmy Carter’s son, James Earl “Chip” Carter III, was over the moon. He was in his early twenties and a typical ’70s young man, so he took the opportunity to hang out with one of his favorite artists. One thing led to another, and soon the pair found themselves sharing a joint on the roof of the White House. Nelson has always been coy about the story, but in 2015, the younger Carter confirmed it, explaining that Nelson “told [him] never to tell anyone” for his own good.

One of the strangest facts about the White House is that, until 1973, women were not allowed to wear pants inside the building. By that modern, liberated decade, women had started pushing back against the old-fashioned rule, but it took the energy crisis of the early 70’s to change it. White House staff lowered the thermostat a few degrees in response to the oil shortage, and everyone working in the building felt cold, so women were finally able to wear pants, lest their downtrodden asses freeze.

live in a museum

Here are some White House facts for you: The occupants of the White House literally live in a museum. The White House Art Collection, which contains more than 65,000 individual pieces, was created by an act of Congress in 1961. Incoming presidents and first ladies can enlarge the collection and rearrange the paintings as they wish to reflect their own interests, like when Ronald Reagan put a portrait of Calvin Coolidge on the Cabinet Room wall to remind those inside of his fiscal conservatism and Michelle Obama added an abstract painting by Alma Thomas to the White House collection, the first work by an African-American woman. .

Did White House Water Kill Lincoln’s Son?

On February 20, 1862, William Wallace Lincoln, the 11-year-old son of President Abraham Lincoln, died in his White House bedroom after a courageous bout of typhoid fever, but there could be more to it . in this story than the history books tell us. The canal that supplied the White House with water was dug near a night dump of soil, a place where residents emptied their chamber pots, and it is likely that Willie Lincoln’s infection originated from this almost certainly contaminated water source. He may not have been the only victim of contaminated White House water: Historians have suggested that Presidents William Henry Harrison and James K. Polk, who died about eight years apart in the 1840s, may have succumbed to the water supply. contaminated. It’s probably been fixed, but just in case, if you’re invited to the White House, maybe bring an Evian.