15 strange secrets of the White House
The storied 55,000 square foot mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. may go by many a name, but most Americans are unaware of all the presidential mansion's secrets.
From its architecture and design to secret rooms and the ghosts that allegedly haunt it, explore these fifteen little known facts that make the White House the residence it is today.
1. It has a twin house in Ireland
When Irish architect James Hoban entered a newspaper contest to find a builder for the “President’s House” in 1792, it’s thought that he based his winning design on the Leinster House in Dublin, Thrillist reports. Today, it’s the home of the Irish Parliament.
2. It’s absolutely massive
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3. There’s tons of supercool “secret” rooms
While everyone’s familiar with White House spaces like the Oval Office, the Situation Room, and Press Briefing Room, most folks don’t realize that the mansion also houses tons of niche rooms added by the presidents through the years.
From the movie theater to the Calligraphy Office, Game Room, Music Room, and the Solarium, there’s also a Chocolate Shop, Flower Shop and dentist’s office on the ground floor, according to AOL and the White House Museum.
4. But not every president has enjoyed living there
As lush as life at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue may seem, not every president has called it a happy home. President Truman was quoted as describing it as "the great white jail" and "a glamorous prison,” while President Nixon famously talked with the presidential portraits during his final, alcohol-buzzed days there, The Atlantic reports.
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5. George Washington never lived there
6. It was built by slaves
According to Smithsonian, historic payroll documents reveal that many builders involved with constructing the White House were enslaved. The architect James Hoban employed his own slaves Ben, Daniel, and Peter as carpenters on the project.
7. Teddy Roosevelt dubbed it the “White House”
8. The West Wing didn't exist until 1902
The iconic wing which inspired a longtime television drama was born of a humorous situation. According to the Museum of Science and Industry Chicago, Teddy Roosevelt had the space constructed for quiet, interrupted work, as his six children proved too distracting.
9. It was updated as wheelchair-accessible for FDR
10. Exotic pets have called it home
11. 570 gallons of paint are needed to cover the exterior
Keeping the executive residence in tip top shape is no small order, according to the book “The White House: The Home of the U.S. President.” 570 gallons of paint are required to keep the mansion’s exterior looking glossy and white.
12. It’s a wildly popular tourist attraction.
Every week, White House welcomes around 30,000 visitors and receives 65,000 letters, 3,500 phone calls and 100,000 emails, according to the History Channel. Visitors do have to request and book tours in advance, though.
13. 140 people can eat dinner at once.
Talk about a dinner party! Given the size of the State Dining Room and the kitchen staff's resources, National Geographic notes that the president could theoretically serve 140 people at once.
14. Staffers have just 12 hours to move in a new president's belongings on inauguration day.
While the newly elected president greets the nation and makes their inaugural address, staffers are busy around the clock moving the new leader's belongings in. According to Elle Décor, move-in begins at noon, and staffers have twelve horus to unpack, arrange all furniture and tidy up.
15. Some believe it’s haunted