Origins of the Presidency and Official Duties

The White House

During which administrations did the White House receive significant updates and remodeling?

Before major restoration began in the late 1940s, the White House had already undergone many changes. In the 1820s, workers added extra pavilions and porticos (ornamental, decklike structures with columns supporting a roof), after the design of architect Benjamin Latrobe, who also designed the U.S. Capitol. In 1833, water pipes were added; in the 1850s, a stove was added; in 1881, an elevator was added. The first telephone was wired into the White House during Rutherford B. Hayes’s administration (1877–1881); during Benjamin Harrison’s administration, in 1891, the White House was wired for electricity. The first-story West Wing offices were constructed in 1901–02 during the term of Theodore Roosevelt, because he needed the second-floor office area for living space for his large family. A new east entrance was also built to allow groups of carriages to enter the property. And in 1909, President William Howard Taft remodeled the president’s office, creating the Oval Office in the center of the West Wing. In 1927, President Calvin Coolidge and his wife relocated to nearby Dupont Circle while the White House roof was raised and replaced, and a third floor was added to allow for guest bedrooms and additional storage. In 1933, engineers installed air conditioning in the private quarters of the White House.

A drawing of the original White House around 1807, five years before the War of 1812, when British forces burned it down.


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