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Origins of the Presidency and Official Duties

The White House

When did the White House burn down?

In 1814, during the War of 1812, the British burned down the White House. President James Madison immediately ordered the rebuilding of the destroyed mansion, insisting that it be restored to its original condition. To ensure authenticity, Madison enlisted the help of the White House’s original architect, James Hoban. Workers used the stone slabs that had survived the fire to rebuild the White House, and afterward gave it a fresh coat of white paint. The rebuilding took a total of three years, and was reopened by President James Monroe for a New Year’s party in 1818. Today, approximately three hundred gallons of white paint are used to cover the exterior of just the center section of the White House, excluding the East and West Wings. Only one other fire tinged the building in its history; in 1929, the West Wing caught on fire during Herbert Hoover’s administration.



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