While the city of Washington, D.C. was being developed, the President's House was also getting under way. A contest was held to select a designer for the house. While it is said that our third President, Thomas Jefferson, submitted designs for the house, architect James Hoban won the contest. Work on the house began in 1792. Stonemasons were hired from Scotland. Bricks were made on the north lawn. Sandstone was brought from Stafford County, Virginia, and lumber from North Carolina and Virginia.
President George Washington oversaw construction of the White House, but he never lived there! It was our second President, John Adams, elected in 1796, who first lived in the White House. His term was almost over by the time he moved in, and only six rooms had been finished.
While James Madison
was President, from 1809-1817, the United States went to war with England. On
August 24, 1814, British soldiers sailed up the Potomac River and set fire to
the White House. Before doing so, however, they marched right into the
President's dining room and helped themselves to food that had been left on the
Dolley Madison, the President's wife, stayed behind until the very last minute. She saved important government papers and the portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart that now hangs in the East Room. A summer thunderstorm put out the fire, but only the outside, charred walls and the interior brick walls remained. It took three years to rebuild the White House.
White House History for Kids
Choosing a City
Constructing a Home for the President
The President's House
A Tour of the President's House
Continued Tour of the President's House
Learn More About the House
President and First Lady | Vice President and Mrs. Gore
Record of Progress | The Briefing Room
Gateway to Government | Contacting the White House | White House for Kids
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