Thursday, January 22, 2009

The White House

As the new President and First Family settle into their new residence, let’s explore the history, architecture and souvenir buildings of the White House. While not as popular with various souvenir makers as the U.S. Capital Building, the White House replicas are still varied in design and material. I’ve seen replica white houses made of pot metal, pewter, ceramic and resin. Functions include White House pencil sharpeners and antique lead coin banks. During the Reagan era, a White House jelly bean jars, were created to commemorate Ron’s love of the jellied candies. The real White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the United States and located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C. In 1791, working with George Washington, artist and engineer Pierre Charles L’Enfant prepared a city plan for Washington, D.C., reserving eighty-two acres for a "President’s Park.” Included in the L’Enfant’s original design was a "President’s Palace" was approximately four times the size of the present White House. Washington chose the deisng of Architect James Hoban, an Irishman living in South Carolina. Washington was not entirely pleased with the original Hoban submission, however; he found it too small, lacking ornament, and not fitting the nation's president. On Washington's recommendation the house was enlarged by thirty percent; a large reception hall, the present East Room, was added. This was likely inspired by the large reception room at Mount Vernon. The building Hoban designed is verifiably influenced by the first and second floors of Leinster House, in Dublin, Ireland, which later became the seat of the Oireachtas -the Irish parliament. The first official White House guide, published in 1962, suggested a link between Hoban's design for the South Portico, and Château de Rastignac, a neoclassical country house located in La Bachellerie in the Dordogne region of France and designed by Mathurin Salat. The structure is made of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the late Georgian style. Construction of the White House began in 1792 and was first occupied by President John Adams in 1800. The total cost was $232,372. The White House was the largest house in the United States until after the Civil War. On August 24, 1814, during the War of 1812, British troops burned the White House in retaliation for an earlier burning of Canadian government buildings in York, Ontario, by the United States. Over its long history, the White House has undergone many changes and redesigns.Today, the White House has 132 rooms, including 16 family-guest rooms, 1 main kitchen, 1 diet kitchen, 1 family kitchen, and 35 bathrooms. The 6 floors make up approximately 55,000 square feet. The term White House is regularly used as a metonym for the Executive Office of the President of the United States and for the president's administration and advisors in general. The building was originally referred to variously as the "President's Palace", "Presidential Mansion", or "President's House" The earliest evidence of the public calling it the "White House" was recorded in 1811 A legend emerged that during the rebuilding of the structure white paint was applied to mask the burn damage it had suffered, giving the building its namesake hue. The name "Executive Mansion" was used in official contexts until President Theodore Roosevelt established the formal name by having "White House–Washington" engraved on the stationery in 1901.The Executive Mansion of the United States is far more than a temporary home for the family who lives there for four or eight years. It is now a museum containing priceless works of art and furnishings, a national monument open to 2 million tourists a year, a guest hotel for entertaining visitors of state and, in recent years, an impregnable fortress for protecting the life of the commander-in-chief." The property is owned by the National Park Service and in 2007 it was ranked second on the American Institute of Architects's List of America's Favorite Architecture.

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