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Construction on the White House Began 224 Years Ago Today

Construction on the White House Began 224 Years Ago Today
The official residence and workplace of the President, The White House is the oldest federal building in DC. Photograph by Carol M. Highsmith. All photos via the Library of Congress.

On October 13, 1792, the cornerstone of the White House was laid. While Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump battle it out to live in the building, here are some things you may not know about one of DC’s most recognizable residences:

• Designed by Irish-born architect James Hoban, who won a design competition in 1790, the White House is based on Leinster House in Dublin.

Lenister House in Dublin, the basis for the design of the White House. Print by James Malton.
Lenister House in Dublin. Print by James Malton.

George Washington chose the site for the White House, then known as the President’s House. John Adams was the first president to live there, as the house wasn’t completed till 1800. And the term “White House” wouldn’t be the building’s official moniker until 1901, thanks to Theodore Roosevelt.

The White House has been renovated and expanded many times, with the most notable changes made by Presidents Monroe (South Portico constructed in 1824), Jackson (addition of the North Portico, 1829), Roosevelt (moved president’s office to what is now the West Wing, 1902), Taft (built first Oval Office, 1909), and Truman (1950).

Check out these photos of the oldest federal building in DC:

South Portico of White House in 1817 as designed by architect, Benjamin Henry Latrobe. Drawing by Benjamin Henry Latrobe.
South Portico of White House in 1817, as designed by architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe. Drawing by Benjamin Henry Latrobe.
1858 Presidential Reception at the White House. Illustration by Harper's Weekly; March 13, 1858.
1858 Presidential Reception at the White House. Illustration by Harper’s Weekly; March 13, 1858.
Exterior of the White House as seen in 1874. Wood engraving by DeB. R. Keim.
Exterior of the White House as seen in 1874. Wood engraving by DeB. R. Keim.
Office of the President in 1904. Photograph by Detroit Publishing Co.
Office of the President in 1904. Photograph by Detroit Publishing Co.
White House Kitchen between 1905 and 1945. Photograph by Harris & Ewing.
White House Kitchen between 1905 and 1945. Photograph by Harris & Ewing.
Aerial view of White House in 2007. Photograph by Carol M. Highsmith.
Aerial view of White House in 2007. Photograph by Carol M. Highsmith.

 

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Editorial Fellow

Sydney is an editorial fellow at Washingtonian Magazine, where she writes about history, news, food, and events. A recent graduate of the College of William & Mary, she is interested in writing and videography. You can follow her on Twitter @sydneykmahan