Did you know that the White House is one of the coolest places on earth? It’s true. Just think, if those walls could talk, what would they say? There may be a lot of things you have read and seen via The West Wing‘s walk-and-talks. However, there’s still so much more about the White House that would shock you. So, sit back and enjoy the ride as you learn some things that will make you say “Really…I didn’t know that!”
There are quite a few names for this place. Did you know that Harry S. Truman named the White House a “stylish jail,” even though Gerald R. Ford called it “the finest public housing I’ve ever seen in my life.” Ronald Reagan, as stated by his spouse, Nancy, mentioned it was “an eight-star hotel” (typically, the best guesthouses are the ones that are called five-star bed and breakfasts). The White House is one of the most high-class households on the planet, and here are some of the coolest things that most of you probably did not know about it.
So, to give you some interesting information since we just elected a new president, we dug up 20 facts about America’s 55,000-square-foot, 132-room, statesmanlike fortress that you’ll never learn anywhere else.
20. The West Wing was only destined to be provisional.
Things did not start off as we see them now. Did you know that originally the White House was known basically as the Executive Office Building? The West Wing was constructed by Teddy Roosevelt. He built it because he wanted to keep the residential and official business areas noticeably detached. Nothing was attached to the central area until President Taft released it so that he could be more included with the everyday actions. And if you have taken the time to look at the photos of Taft, you would be able to recognize why he wasn’t such a huge fan of having to move among buildings too often.
19. Ireland has a Twin.
Did you know that there is a twin White House in Ireland? Yes, there is one, and most don’t even know about it. There is a rumor that Irish designer James Hoban is believed to have founded his blueprint for the White House on the Leinster House in Dublin. By the way, it is a nice-looking house that does look like a miniature White House. Some might even call it the little sister house. It was originally the household of the Duke of Leinster, and these days it houses the seat of the Irish Assembly. Isn’t this some fascinating information that you did not know?
18. No Free Lunch Here.
Yes, you heard it. There’s no such thing as a free meal in the White House. Yes, this even goes for the First Family. When it gets to the end of each month, the President will get a bill for his entire family. This bill includes expenses for his family’s personal food. It also includes other stuff like the related expenditures as well as dry cleaning, toiletries and toothpaste, which are then subtracted from his $400,000 annual salary. So, it must be true that nothing in life is free, and that also includes the President of the United States and his family.
17. Underground strip mall.
Did you ever think the basement in the White House is an underground strip mall? Who would, right? Most individuals are aware of the bowling alley in the underground room, which was put in by pin-shark Nixon in ’69, but then again there are a couple of other thought-provoking spots down there that most do not even know about. As well as the Situation Room — where the head of government meets with consultants in times of crisis — there’s a carpenter’s shop, dentist’s office, and a flower shop. You think the Commander in Chief has the time to pop out to check on a cavity? Maybe not.
16. Popular Place.
The White House is a building that has achieved celebrity status. It’s, as you would have thought, enormously popular. All over the world, people are fascinated about the White House but don’t know much about it. That’s why you’re here, after all, to learn what you don’t know! It’s of course vastly well-liked, and each week the White House collects up to 40,000 visitors and 65,000 letters. Can you imagine? That’s not even all. They also receive 3,500 phone calls every day, not to mention the 100,000 emails and 1,000 faxes sent from a time when individuals were still using them.
15. True solitude is impossible.
If you are looking for privacy, don’t go to the White House. Instead of thinking that you will get peace and quiet, you’ll get the complete opposite. By quite a few accounts, the Secret Service code for the president and his woman getting some alone time in the residence is to say they’re “deliberating the Bosnian crisis.” Yes, it’s extremely touch-and-go certainly, but this is how they roll in the White House. Without having a code, it would be very hard for the president and his wife to get intimate. It’s hard to do anything in secret when the Secret Service is around!
14. Built on the Backs of Slaves.
Much like America itself, foreign labor was vital to building the White House. Without it, you would have never seen its construction. The White House was constructed with the assistance of many. This would include various European painters and immigrant workers such as Scottish masons and Italian and Irish plaster and brick workers. On an unpleasant note, historic labor force records show many other builders were not people that came from other parts of the world. In fact, they were the enslaved African Americans. In reality, the designer James Hoban applied three of his slaves to work on the building during its construction.
13. It wasn’t always known as The White House.
Yes, we are all aware that the White House is the home and workplace of the President of the United States and the head office of the Executive Subdivision of the National Government. Before Theodore Roosevelt, it was acknowledged simply as the Executive Manor. Yes, it’s true. During its life, the White House was known as “The Executive Mansion” and there were times when it was called “The Presidential Palace” by some as well as Mrs. Dolly Madison. But then again, in the 1900s when Theodore Roosevelt took up his dwelling there, he decided to shake things up and changed the mansion to its present title “The White House” and stretched the manor with the West Wing.
12. It’s said to be haunted by Abraham Lincoln.
Some would say that the most popular address in America–1600 Pennsylvania Avenue–is likewise possibly the nation’s most celebrated haunted house. For years, many have said that the White House was haunted. Of all the haunted White House stories out there, you might want to hear this one and judge for yourself.
Winston Churchill did not want to stay in the Lincoln Bedroom. He made the statement after he alleged to have seen Lincoln’s ghost. He thought that the phantom would come back and appear to him beside the fireplace as he was coming from taking a bath, completely naked.
11. FDR’s physical limitations.
On August 10, 1921, Franklin D. Roosevelt woke up one morning with designs to bring his mate and kids out for a trip by water in New Brunswick, Canada. He had no awareness that it would be the last day that he would have full use of both his legs. It’s true that FDR’s physical confines forever changed the White House. It is also true that the original builders never paid attention to the likelihood of a president that was handicapped, so when he was chosen it had to be prepared suitably with elevators and ramps to accommodate a wheelchair. Roosevelt also inserted a heated indoor pool to aid with his rehabilitation.
10. Clinton’s structural additions
It was clear that Bill Clinton was not all that with the White House to a certain extent. Apparently, he was not happy with the structure of the bathroom. To spice things up a bit he added in a seven-seat hot tub to suit his fancy. It was obvious that his wife Hillary Clinton did not object to it at all. The hot tub stuck around throughout his reign as president. It did not appear to be questioned by those that worked around him either. There was an old saying that traveled around for years that said ‘There’s at all times space for two with him.”
9. The Clintons Took Time To Get Comfortable
Speaking of the Clintons, according to the staff that worked with them, Bill and Hillary Clinton were the most private family in recent presidential history. One person that worked for the Clintons mentioned “I’ve had staffers make the point that the Clintons were certainly the most mistrustful first family that they ever had to deal with in the White House.” She added, “Both of them really did not have much trust for the personnel — it took them a complete year to really bring on a conversation despite the fact the personnel was in the room.” The Clintons obviously did not trust their White House company at the start. Very interesting.
8. It can accommodate 140 guests
Everyone knows that the White House is celebrated for hosting powerful parties and a whole lot of other nice events. People from all over the world were invited and they appeared to be having a blast every time an event was held. When the Obamas came into the White House, they appeared to have hosted many parties. There’s no problem with having a good time because apparently, the White House can have up to 140 guests. All of them can attend a sit-down dinner with the president and his family. If they’re just having entrees, the kitchen can serve over 1,000 guests on one occasion if it is needed, and in most cases it is.
7. Never a Dull Moment
You don’t have to worry about being bored in the White House. There is more than enough to do. Even though a few of these features have been removed, the grounds of the White House have built-in a movie theater, indoor and outdoor pools, a one-lane bowling alley, a game room with ping-pong tables and billiard, a jogging track, a tennis court and a putting green. Barack Obama brought in his own style by adding detachable basketball hoops to the tennis court. This was done so he could practice his own preferred sport. Yep, as you can see, there’s never a dull moment in the White House.
6. Rooms Everywhere
Talk about room after room after room. The White House has so many of them. So, can you even wrap your mind around how big it actually is? These days, the manor on Pennsylvania avenue has about 132 rooms and 35 bathrooms. This is spread out all over the six-level mansion. Wait there’s more, there are 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 412 doors, three elevators and eight staircases. Talk about a lot of space and then some. If those rooms could talk, we’re pretty sure that we would learn the good, the bad and the ugly from them. With that said, there’s enough room for everyone.
5. George Washington Chose the Spot
Have you ever wondered who picked the exact location of the White House? It has been alleged that George Washington, who was the first president of the United States, chose its site sometime in 1791 between Maryland and Virginia. It was also said that he did not waste any time because the cornerstone was laid the succeeding year. Whether he chose the spot or not has not been 100% confirmed, but it is for sure that he had to approve the location. Also, in 1800, President John Adams and Abigail, his wife, could not wait and moved in. They were so eager to get in there that they went way before construction was even done.
4. It Burned to the Ground
Can you image the White House burning to the ground? Well, history tells us that it did. In 1814, the British territorial army set the White House on fire during the time of the War of 1812. So, why on earth would they do this? There was a war going on and it was kind of a way that the British were trying to get back at the Americans. They were trying to get revenge because U.S. soldiers had just set Canadian houses ablaze in York, Ontario. So, after attacking Washington DC, the troops went northwest up Pennsylvania Avenue in the direction of the White House. Sadly, the entire manor burned to the ground but at least there were no casualties.
3. Not much of the original White House remains.
Yes, after it was burned to the ground, there was not much of the previous version left. Those troublesome British burned the original White House in 1814 after U.S. militaries set fire to Canada’s congress. The well-known Gilbert Stuart image of George Washington was rescued by an escaping Dolley Madison. However, there are some other things that were able to make it out of the fire like some of the original stones. So, the building that you see standing today is not the same one from over 200 years ago. A piece of American history was truly lost that day.
2. Missing Cornerstone
Most are not familiar with the story of its missing cornerstone. In October of 1792, on one fateful day, a group of freemasons got together at a Georgetown tavern. Once there, they paraded to the future site of the president’s manor. In a ritual, they placed a decorated cornerstone to mark the start of the house’s creation. They then paraded to a hotel and made a toast to the occasion. Actually, they did about 16 toasts in all! So, no one really recorded where the stone was supposed to be placed. President Truman tried to look for the stone throughout the renovation era, but no one has viewed it since 1792.
1. You Can Buy your own White House
Yep, it’s true. You can buy your own White House for $5 million. That may sound like something way beyond expensive. However, if you give it some thought, it’s a steal. Especially since the real White House is valued at a whopping $397.9 million. The copy White House is located in McLean, Virginia. The building has just 15,000 square feet of space. This is compared to 54,000 for the actual White House. There is a standard Oval Office and replica Lincoln bedroom. The original owners utilized plans from the actual White House to construct the facility from nothing. The replica recently went up for auction.
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