Who Legally Owns the White House

Hoban visited the site while his brief was being written, and the chairman and commissioners obviously felt that the structure he proposed was well suited to the landscape. It was also only about a quarter the size of L`Enfant`s palace. Even after Washington added two bays to the design, it was clear that Hoban`s design would only fill part of the excavated soil. So where exactly, would it be built? President Washington had the last word, and he came in early August 1792 to personally stake the perimeter of the mansion. The subject annoyed him a lot as he went back and forth, but he eventually decided to center the north front of the White House on the northern edge of the excavation to ensure that the confluence of the streets to the north remained intact and ruled out the need to change the city plan. However, because the house was much smaller than the palace, this location moved the presidential house out of the orientation of the United States Capitol along Pennsylvania Avenue. The Child intended to connect the executive and legislative branches along this line of sight, but the link was lost before construction of one of the two buildings began. The north façade is the main façade of the White House and consists of three floors and eleven bays. The ground floor is concealed by a raised landing ramp and parapet, so that the façade appears two-storey.

The three middle bays are located behind a Prostyle portico (this was a later addition to the house built around 1830), which serves as a carriage door thanks to the access ramp. The windows of the four bays flanking the portico have alternately pointed and segmented gables on the first floor, while on the second floor the gables are flat. The main entrance in the middle of the portico is surmounted by a skylight telescope. Above the entrance is a garland carved with flowers. The roofline is covered by a railing parapet. The Child`s plan for the presidential palace disappeared with him. The building was too large and the surrounding grounds too large to be completed on December 1, 1800. Equally important, the royal name was a bad choice for the home of the chief executive of a republic.

Thus, the presidential palace became the presidential house, and the commissioners announced a public design competition to select its architect. They demanded that the landscape influence the design: “The location of the building, if the artist takes care of it,” says the official announcement, “will naturally affect the appearance and outline of its plan, and its purpose will show it the number, size and distribution of apartments.” They also wanted to reduce L`Enfant`s plans for the site. Commissioner David Stuart warned President Washington that the proposed 82-acre park did not fit the building`s reduced vision: “The land around the president`s house [is] far too extensive. Perhaps it is the genius of a despotic government to cultivate a vast and gloomy desert in the midst of a prosperous city. I cannot think that is appropriate in our situation. If a royal palace was not appropriate for the president of the United States, then a king-size landscape was equally inappropriate. The winning project for the future White House was submitted by Irish-born architect James Hoban. In 1814, during the War of 1812, the White House was burned by British troops[39] during the fire of Washington, in retaliation for the burning of Port Dover and other cities in Upper Canada; Much of Washington was also affected by these fires. Only the outer walls remained, and they had to be demolished and largely rebuilt, as they were weakened by fire and exposed to the elements, except for parts of the south wall.

Of the many items taken from the White House when it was looted by British troops, only two have been found. Employees and slaves rescued a George Washington painting,[39] and in 1939, a Canadian returned a jewelry box to President Franklin Roosevelt, claiming his grandfather had taken it from Washington. Some observers claim that most of this loot was lost when a convoy of British ships led by HMS Fantome en route to Halifax sank off Prospect in a storm on the night of 24 November 1814,[40][41] although Fantome was not involved in this action. [42] Jefferson also began inviting people to an open house at the White House after the consecration. Things got a little out of hand in 1829 when thousands of people came to the mansion after Andrew Jackson was sworn in. People flocked to the mansion and the crowd tried to greet Jackson, many standing on furniture to catch a glimpse of him. After completing the acquisition of the land, L`Enfant created the footprint of the presidential palace in December 1791 and supervised a partial excavation of its basement conducted by African-American slaves. This was his last major contribution to the project. Although skilled and hardworking, L`Enfant was arrogant, persevering and aggressive. After months of wrangling with the city commissioners, who were legally L`Enfant`s superiors, President Washington made the difficult decision to fire his old friend for progress. It is still unclear to what extent Jefferson`s ambitious landscape plan was ever realized. What is certain is that the abridged east and west terraces were built and the roadway was laid on the north side.

When Jefferson left office, a new stone staircase reached the front door and was supported by a massive ridge vault. Latrobe began construction of the stone wall in April 1807 and was completed in September 1808. Its height varied between 7 feet, 6 inches and 8 feet, depending on the underlying slope of the ground. The large entrance gate at the southeast corner of the presidential complex was built, although little information about the planning and construction process has been preserved. Latrobe usually gets recognition, but Jefferson was certainly involved as well. This monumental structure, 25 feet tall and up to 66 feet long, served as an admirable replacement for the White House by anchoring this end of Pennsylvania Avenue. At the end of his life, Edmund Baker, Jefferson`s director at Monticello for twenty years, recalled, “When I was there, the president`s house was surrounded by a high rock face, and there was an iron gate just across the street, and from that gate to the Capitol the road was as straight as a rifle barrel.” Less than a week after his inauguration, Jefferson decided to replace the uncomfortable addiction with two proper restrooms. The construction of the indoor baths proceeded slowly.