white-houseThe White House is the name given to the official residence and workplace of the President of the United States. Since it is typically associated with the President, it is also a symbol of the executive branch of the U.S. Government, and every President except George Washington has lived here. It is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC, and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. The White House is about one mile north of the Washington Monument and about two miles northwest of the U.S. Capitol Building.

The White House was built between 1792 and 1800; in 1814, it was burned by the British army when they invaded the city during the War of 1812. After the war ended, the White House was rebuilt in the 1820s and has been expanded over the years, including major internal reconstruction from 1949 to 1951. It has been redecorated on the inside and today is open for public tours. The President’s family also lives in the White House, and although each President may make changes to the interior, these must be approved by the Committee for the Preservation of the White House. Any changes must be in keeping with the historical character of the White House.

The President’s office is called the Oval Office because the room is shaped like an oval. In the Oval Office, the President signs bills, meets with staff, and hosts guests and visitors. One of the most famous pieces of furniture in the room is the Resolute desk, which was made from the wood of a British ship and was given to President Hayes in 1880 by Queen Victoria.

The White House and its grounds have seen many changes. During World War I, President Woodrow Wilson had a flock of sheep on the south grounds that ate the grass; their wool was sold for the war effort. The South Lawn is also where the President’s helicopter, Marine One, takes off and lands. It is the site of the annual Easter Egg Roll, where children can participate in a traditional Easter event. The grounds have also been used as gardens for food for the White House meals.

White House facts and figures:

  • The White House is 168 feet long.
  • It is 152 feet wide (with porticoes).
  • It is about 70 feet high on the south side and 60 feet high on the north side.
  • To cover the outside of the White House, it takes 300 gallons of paint.
  • It sits on 18 acres of land.
  • It has 132 rooms, with 16 family and guest rooms, 3 kitchens, and 35 bathrooms.
  • The floor area is about 55,000 square feet.

To learn more, including an interactive tour, see the White House official site.