George Washington Never Slept Here

October 13, 1792
The Cornerstone Of The White House Was Laid

Who was the first president to live in the White House? Although George Washington helped to choose the site for the residence while he was president, he never lived at the famous house. Philadelphia had been the country’s capital before Congress declared the city of Washington the permanent capital of the United States in 1791.

The cornerstone of the White House was laid on October 13, 1792. Eight years later, John Adams, the second president, and his wife Abigail, moved into the mansion. A competition had been held to design the presidential residence. Can you guess which future president participated in the competition?

Thomas Jefferson was among the many people who submitted a plan for the White House. His design, however, was not chosen. Instead, James Hoban, an Irish immigrant architect living in Charleston, South Carolina, won the competition and a $500 prize, with a design modeled after Leinster House in Dublin, Ireland.

Constructed of white-gray sandstone, the presidential mansion was called the White House as early as 1812. President Theodore Roosevelt officially adopted the term in 1901. Over the years, the original building has been expanded, reinforced, set on fire, and rebuilt.

British troops burned the White House during the War of 1812. The structure was rebuilt, enlarged, and readied for President James Monroe by 1817. While President and Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt and their six children lived at the White House, the second-floor rooms were converted into living quarters. The West Wing was also built during this period to house the presidential staff.

Today the White House has more than 130 rooms. The presidential family lives in the main building, and the president’s office is in the West Wing. Did you know that the White House also has a swimming pool, a gym, and a movie theater? About 1.5 million people tour the White House every year. Have you visited this house where the president lives?