- The White House has been home to exotic pets, weddings, deaths, and legends galore.
- After it has hosted presidents and their families for more than two centuries, here are the most interesting facts about America’s most famous address.
Each day, scores of visitors are guided through the White House’s halls to see some of the most famous artifacts in the country’s history first-hand.
Though the White House’s many rooms and ornate decorations tell countless compelling stories, there are some lesser-known facets behind America’s most famous address.
See the deaths, additions, and legends inside the Executive Mansion:
Construction began in 1792 by a work crew comprised of slaves and immigrants from Ireland, Scotland, and other European countries.
It is widely believed that Irish architect James Hoban won a newspaper contest to design the White House based on a design inspired by Leinster House, which houses the Irish Parliament in Dublin.
George Washington, the first president, never actually lived in the White House. John Adams was the first president to move in on November 1, 1800, shortly before he lost re-election to Thomas Jefferson.
The building was known as “the Executive Mansion” until Theodore Roosevelt made the long-running nickname, “the White House” official.
A Christmas Eve fire in 1929 prompted some of the first major renovations to the interior of the White House under Franklin Delano Roosevelt. They included the additions of an indoor pool, air conditioning, and wheelchair accessibility.
The White House is widely believed to be haunted, with accounts from staff and leaders spanning decades that describe sightings of figures like Andrew Jackson (who reportedly laughs and swears), Thomas Jefferson (who plays the violin), and Dolley Madison (who protects the Rose Garden).
Former President Abraham Lincoln, who was reportedly visited by his son Willie after the 11-year-old died in the White House in 1862, has appeared to First Lady Grace Coolidge and Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Lincoln, seen in the Lincoln Bedroom and Yellow Oval Room, is rumoured to appear when he thinks the country is in peril.
In 1940, Churchill was reportedly surprised by Lincoln’s ghost right after stepping out of a bath. “Good evening, Mr. President,” Churchill reportedly said to Lincoln. “You seem to have me at a disadvantage.”
Source: The Washington Post
Richard Nixon had a bowling alley installed in the basement, which now also houses the Situation Room, a flower shop, carpenter’s shop, and a dentist’s office.
Source: The White House Museum
Bill Clinton was gifted a seven-seat hot tub near the South Lawn that was installed next to the swimming pool. The owner of the company who donated the tub emphasised to the New York Times it was ”a very wholesome, legitimate therapy appliance.”
Source: The New York Times
To date, 10 people have died in the White House, including former presidents William Henry Harrison and Zachary Taylor, and three first ladies.
The White House is a popular wedding venue. Ulysses E. Grant put on the “first really grand White House wedding” in 1874 for his daughter, Nellie. First daughters Alice Lee Roosevelt, Lynda Bird Johnson, and Tricia Nixon are also among the 18 recorded weddings of family members and longtime staffers.
Former President Grover Cleveland, 49, married Frances Folsom, 22, in the Blue Room on June 2, 1886 in front of 50 guests before a grand dinner in the State Dining Room.
Despite its popularity, weddings follow a strict code of conduct. Trump adviser Omarosa Manigault-Newman caused a stir when she brought her 39-person bridal party to the White House after her wedding at a nearby Trump Hotel for an extended photo shoot, pictures she was forbidden from posting.
Though White House functions are lavish, they aren’t free. The president is billed at the end of every month for groceries, hourly pay for waiters, cleanup crews used for private parties, and other expenses.
Source: Business Insider
Though presidents are commonly known to have dogs while in office, the White House has been home to a number of exotic pets including Tad Lincoln’s turkey (which sparked the pardoning tradition), the Roosevelt children’s pony, and Allan Hoover’s alligator.
Many presidents have been openly miserable about living there. While Gerald Ford remarked it was the “best public housing” he had seen, Ronald Reagan said life in the White House like “a bird in a gilded cage.”
Source: The Atlantic
However, President Donald Trump has said he doesn’t have the same take on life in the Executive Mansion, telling Time Magazine that he gives tours to dinner guests to show off the classic American marvels including oil paintings and the Lincoln Bedroom.
“You have to be a certain type of person,” Trump told Time, adding “people have no idea the beauty of the White House. The real beauty of the White House.”
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