13 fascinating moments that reveal life at the White House

The 223-year-old White House, has 6 levels, 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 412 doors, 28 fireplaces, and is home to the world’s most powerful person. The most public of private residences is also a command center for nearly 17,000 employees.

Here are some of our favourite facts and stories of what life is like inside the White House:

In order to cut costs and save on manpower during WWI, President Woodrow Wilson kept a flock of 48 sheep to maintain the White House lawn. According to the White House, wool was auctioned off and $US52,823 was donated to the Red Cross.

Sheep white house lawnThe Library Of CongressSheep grazing on the South Lawn of the White House in 1918.

During WWII blackout curtains were placed over the windows of the White House, antiaircraft guns installed on the roof, gas masks hung from their straps on furniture, and the gates to the home were closed, according to author C. Brian Kelly of “Best Little Stories from the White House.”

White house ww2

A view of the crowds that gathered at the gates of the White House on Dec. 7, 1941 in Washington after announcement that Japan had attached U.S. possessions in the Pacific.

According to author William Seale, White House engineers asked President Roosevelt if they could change the colour of the home by painting it in the “military camouflage style.”

Fdr white house

Robert Clover/AP
President Franklin D. Roosevelt takes the oath for his fourth term of office during inaugural ceremonies on the rear porch of the White House.

Elvis presley nixon

In 1970, Elvis Presley showed up at the White House gates and asked to meet President Nixon. The Secret Service showed “the king” in and the president was thrilled to meet him in the Oval Office.

This is a handout photo of President Richard Nixon, left, meeting with Elvis Presley 25 years ago on Dec. 21, 1970, in Washington.

The Nixons didn’t finish moving out of the White House in time and thus President Ford had to serve part of his term from his personal home.

Gerald fordAPPresident Ford leaves his home on the first day of his presidency.

President Ford was once locked out of the White House in his robe and slippers in the wee hours of the morning after taking his dog Liberty outside to do her business. Since every door was locked, President Ford began to pound on the walls.

“The White House sprang alive, lights came on everywhere, and the Secret Service rushed to the scene to let the president back into his own house,” Kelly writes.

President Ford liberty dogGerald R. Ford LibraryPresident Ford and his golden retriever, Liberty, in the Oval Office on November 7, 1974.

Secret Service agents are responsible for the keys to the White House but due to several security breaches, the exterior doors automatically lock.

White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

The West Wing was meant to be temporary, but President Taft didn’t like the idea of walking to another building to go to work. The West Wing is home to the Oval Office and the Situation Room.

According to former White House Deputy Director Natasha Neely, the West Wing has radiation detectors. During a tour, Neely was informed by Secret Service agents that someone in her group brought in a form of radiation and nobody could proceed until the source was identified.

West wing white house

A Marine honour guard member stands at his post outside of the West Wing at the White House at dusk shortly after President Barack Obama returned from the Pentagon.

Insiders have a different name for the “Situation Room,” they call it “Woodshed.”

Obama panetta situation roomPete Souza/White House/ReutersUS President Barack Obama talks with members of the national security team at the conclusion of one in a series of meetings discussing the mission against Osama bin Laden, in the Situation Room of the White House May 1, 2011.

The exterior of the White House requires 570 gallons of Sherwin Williams’ “Whisper White.”

White house paintJonathan Ernst/ReutersWorkers put a fresh coat of paint on the White House in Washington August 26, 2014.

The Secret Service has a code for when the president and first lady are spending “alone time” together. Agents refer to this private time as “the couple is discussing the Bosnian problem.”

Michelle obama barack obama

White House Flickr

All food headed to the White House is screened at a separate off-site location first. If guests were to bring food into the White House the Secret Service would dispose of it immediately.

Obama white house chefWhite House PhotoChefs bring out dishes as US first lady Michelle Obama gives a dinner preview for Sunday’s Governors dinner.

Luxurious State Dinners are funded by taxpayers but at the end of every month the first family is billed for all of their groceries, toiletries, and dry cleaning.

State dinnerThe White HousePresident Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, along with Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom and Samantha Cameron, talk with guests during the State Dinner on the South Lawn of the White House.

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