Origins of the Presidency and Official Duties

The White House

What was the White House like originally?

The original White House was designed by Irish-American architect James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800. The presidential home, made of gray stone, was called the “Executive Mansion.” The building was first made white with lime-based whitewash in 1798, when its walls were finished, primarily as a means of protecting the porous stone from freezing. John and Abigail Adams moved into a house that was still unfinished; in fact, many of the plaster walls were still wet and about half of the thirty-six rooms had not been plastered at all. The largest room in the house, the East Room, was also unfinished. Because Abigail Adams thought that the president’s laundry should not be hung to dry outside on the lawn for the public to see, she set up drying lines in the East Room.


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