Here’s How the Nation’s Most Famous House Has Changed Over the Years
The White House is among the most visited houses in America, welcoming roughly 1.25 million visitors each year to get up close and personal with one of the world’s most recognizable pieces of real estate. However, as we all know, the White House is anything but the normal neoclassical-palladian D.C. mansion it appears to be from the outside, or from what you’ll see on a tour for that matter. Rather, it’s one part military fortress, one part museum, one part business center, and one part the former home of many powerful, sometimes colorful, personalities. So without getting political, we profiled some of this famous property’s most unique additions.
The Executive Stables:
Long before the president’s first automobile, horseback or horse-drawn carriage was the preferred means of local transport. Thus, the White House has gone through its fair share of stables, with the most recent being a Victorian-style structure constructed in 1891. In 1906, 15 horses (eight of which were Teddy Roosevelt’s) and their caretaker lived just south of the State, War, and Navy buildings. In 1911, the building was demolished as automobiles became more prevalent. Currently, Teddy Roosevelt’s horse-drawn carriage as well as many of the presidential limousines are on display at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan
The Elevators and Ramps:
While it seems more commonplace today, the White House was outfitted with an elevator and ramps for Franklin D. Roosevelt who was battling polio, though some medical experts say that evidence suggests he might have actually had Guillian-Barre syndrome, during the end of his presidency. This makes it one of the first wheelchair-accessible government buildings in D.C.
On June 2, 1933, the New York Daily News helped raise money to build the White House’s first pool. Used primarily for swim therapy by FDR, this indoor pool is currently located beneath the press briefing room. The outdoor pool was commissioned by Gerald R. Ford in 1975. Ford was an avid swimmer and the pool remains today.
While the first film to be screened in the White House was D.W. Griffith’s “The Birth of a Nation”, The White House Family Theatre was formally converted into its current form in 1942 when FDR had the cloakroom converted into a theatre. Since then many presidents have brushed up on their motion pictures.
The Bowling Alley:
The White House has had a couple of bowling lanes over the years. Built for Harry S. Truman in 1947, the first bowling lane was constructed in the west wing. Then, in 1955 it was moved to the Old Executive Office Building. In 1969, Richard Nixon added the bowling alley in the basement where it exists today.
The Putting Green:
An avid golfer, Dwight D. Eisenhower installed a putting green on the south lawn in 1954. It was removed by Nixon, but then re-installed by George H.W. Bush. Bill Clinton then had it moved to its current location, just south of the rose garden.
The Solar Panels:
Jimmy Carter might be often referred to as a ‘well-meaning peanut farmer’ from Georgia, but he was also an engineer. So in 1979, he had 32 solar panels installed on the White House roof. They were later removed by Ronald Reagan and then an updated solar energy system was re-installed in 2002 under George W. Bush.
The Basketball Court:
When Teddy Roosevelt was in office, he had a tennis court installed on the property’s south lawn. However, when Barack Obama took office he added painted lines and removable basketball hoops to get his game on.
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