Between 1792 and 1800, Aquia Creek sandstone was painted white and used in the construction. The original paint has since been lost, but it is believed that the appearance of the building today is similar to its appearance when it first opened.
In 1835, Charles Fowler purchased the property with funds he had earned as a partner in a Philadelphia business. He hired William Thornton to remodel the interior of the house and add several additional rooms. The Fowlers then moved into the newly renovated house and called it "Bellevue." They lived there until their son Thomas married and built his home next door in 1840. That family continued to live in the house until 1900, when it too was sold.
In 1913, John D. Archbold bought the property and began a series of renovations that were not completed until the start of World War II. During this time, Belvue became a hospital for injured soldiers operated by the American Red Cross. The house has remained in public use since then, although it has been the office of various federal agencies including the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Office of Management and Budget.
In 2009, President Barack Obama signed legislation to make major improvements to the West Wing.
It is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., and has served as the official home of every President of the United States since John Adams in 1800. The house was recently renovated by Thomas J. O'Brien and features historic photographs, American art, and furniture.
The grounds include a garden, a swamp, a riverbank, a woods, a field, a cemetery, a wall, an entrance gate, and a porte cochere (or porte-cochere).
The property was originally part of a 1,908-acre tract granted by the King in 1663 to William Claiborne, Secretary of Virginia. The mansion was built between 1767 and 1770 by Benjamin Henry Latrobe for himself and his family. Latrobe was one of the most important American architects of the early Republic and is best known for his work on the Capitol building. He also designed several other significant buildings in Washington, D.C., including St. John's Church and Trinity School. His son, Henry Beekman Latrobe, became an influential engineer in his own right and is credited with designing much of Baltimore after the Civil War. After Henry Latrobe's death in 1820, the house was sold to Martin Van Buren and is now called the Van Buren House.
It wasn't always this way. The White House is constructed of gray-colored sandstone quarried near Aquia, Virginia. The north and south porticos are made of Maryland's red Seneca sandstone. The west wing was added by Thomas Jefferson in 1807. He wanted a house that was representative of the nation's capital, so he had architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe design a home for him to live in while it was being built. This west wing includes the president's private study.
The Green Room is used by the president when he or she goes into the North Portico to greet visitors. It is here that they can change into more formal clothes if they come from outside Washington, D.C.. The room is painted dark green to help set it apart from other rooms in the house and to match the color of the carpeting.
When William Howard Taft became president in 1909, he preferred living in other parts of the city and rarely stayed in the White House. His wife, Helen, did not like this and decided she would make changes to make the house more comfortable for her husband. She hired other people to do some work in the Green Room and gave the job of painting the room dark green as a surprise for her husband.
Here you can see a photo of the original paint job in the Green Room.
The pure white limestone for the White House comes from quarries near Pucisca on Brac, one of the Adriatic's biggest islands. Long before that, slaves of the fourth-century Roman Emperor Diocletian gathered the same white stone and hauled it to Split to build his palace. Today, that structure stands too.
The first house built for President Washington was a small two-room stone structure with a wooden floor. It stood on a hill just outside of town and had excellent views of the countryside and the Potomac River. This was also when Washington City was first being developed into a city.
The current White House has been renovated many times since its construction in 1792. The most recent renovation was done by James Hoban under John Adams and Benjamin Henry Latrobe. The house has nine rooms up here on the second floor and seven down on the first floor. There are also several anterooms, corridors, and stairs that lead away from these two floors.
Limestone is made up of calcium carbonate, which is also found in chalk and coral. It is very hard but easy to work with once cut. Limestone looks good inside the White House because it doesn't show dirt like other materials might. However, due to its visibility, it does require regular cleaning.
You can see limestone in many buildings across the United States.
There is a widespread belief that the White House was originally painted white to disguise the scorch marks left when British forces set fire to it during the War of 1812. Actually, a lime-based whitewash was originally applied to the White House in 1798 to preserve the outside stone from moisture and cracking during winter freezes. The color was recently restored by the government as part of an overall renovation of the building.
In 1915, President Wilson asked that the house be painted white to make it easier for his wife to live there with her sickly son Jack. The family had just one other room they could call their own: the Blue Room, which Mrs. Wilson used as a bedroom. She died in the room on January 3, 1968 at the age of 95. Her husband outlived her by six years.
The Wilsons' daughter Helen took over the management of the house and made many changes of her own. For example, she added a second floor by moving into parts of the attic. She also replaced much of the furniture that her mother had given the house its original charm. In 1970, President Nixon moved into the White House with his family after he was elected president. He wanted to bring warmth and modernity to the house and hired Mary Caswell Myers to redesign part of it. Among other things, she added a green carpet to the entrance hall and redecorated the first family's living quarters.
Today, the White House is being renovated again.