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THE WHITE HOUSE
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Highlights: Looks big, white, and really fancy from a distance.
Lowlights: Admission is gained only through a request from a Member of Congress, since I didn't make a request prior to my arrival in D.C., no tour for me!
Address: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C.
Hours: 7:30am to 12:30pm Tuesday through Saturday (excluding federal holidays)
Phone: 24-hour line at (202)456-7041
Admission: Free, however you have to request admission through your Congressman.
Access: Wheelchair accessible.
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Due to the lack of forward planning on my part, I fail to gain access to the White House during my visit to Washington, D.C. However, the home and office of the President of the United States is an important sight, one that deserves mention within these electronic pages.
The history of the White House is rather fascinating and storied. In the beginning, site selection is completed by President George Washington in 1792, afterwhich construction of the White House is given the all clear and commences without delay. Eight long years and $232,371.83 later, the White House is finally completed, providing both housing and that coveted new house smell to the second U.S. President, John Adams.
Originally referred to as the Presidential Palace or Presidential Mansion, by 1811 the general public is calling it the White House, prompted no doubt by its white exterior color. The stuffy name, the Executive Masion, hold on and is often used by officials until President Teddy Roosevelt solidifies the public reference in 1901 by engraving "The White House" on the his official stationary.
In 1814, hard times strike Washington D.C. when the War of 1812 spills over into the Nation's Capitol, causing great devastation in its wake. Many buildings, including the White House, are not spared. The gutted White House is soon thereafter rebuilt, and enjoys a relatively stable existence, until the early twentieth century when two wings are added to accommodate the President's growing staff.
Tragedy strikes again in 1929 on Christmas Eve when the West Wing is significantly damaged by fire. Surprisingly, in the mid-1940 the White House is deemed structurally unsound, requiring President Harry Truman to move out while the house is gutted, then retrofitted with steel and concrete. Years later, after decades of poor maintenance, the interior is given a complete overhaul during President Kennedy's term in office.
The White House is looming in the distance. I can see how it got its name, not only is it big, it's pretty darn white! Come with me to the front of the fenced property while I try to capture as much of this special place as I can!
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