Wednesday, January 21, 2009
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The White House: A Highly Coveted Mansion


It was restored and expanded many times in its history and the Oval Office is redecorated each time a new President is elected. But why was this official residence called the White House?

It was only in 1901 that the Executive Mansion, as it was then called, received its final name: the “White House”, under Theodor Roosevelt. According to the legend, the name “White House” would come from “White Plantation House” where George Washington met his wife Martha in New Kent, Virginia. But in reality, it was painted white since the very beginning.

George Washington and his brother-in-arms, the French engineer Pierre Charles Lenfant (who gave the plan of Washington) made their decision about the location of the new

residence and James Hoban was chosen as an architect. Washington judged it too small however and Hoban expanded the house adding a reception hall, the present East Room, inspired by Mount Vernon. A portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart (1797) can be seen in this room used for press conferences, entertainment and ceremonies. The first President of the United States never occupied the house, he died one year earlier.

The work was performed between October 1792 and November 1800 by slaves, Scottish and Italian emmigrants in the neo-Palladian Style (currently known as Georgian Style in English-speaking countries). The first President to live in the White House was John Adams. It was very much damaged in 1812 as the British tried to recuperate their colonies.

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