Surprising Facts You Didn’t Know About the White House

The White House is not only one of the most famous buildings in Washington, DC but also in the world. It draws massive crowds of both locals and tourists all year long as people appreciate the architecture of the building and its place in U.S. history. Despite this structure’s fame, there might be some surprising facts you didn’t know about the White House. We share them with you below!

An Immigrant Designed the White House in 1792

People immigrated to the colonies starting in the 1600s. Therefore, many of the most important people in North American history were born on American soil. However, the man who designed the White House was not. James Hoban came to the newly formed United States from Ireland following the Revolutionary War. He designed several important buildings in his new home and won the White House design competition in 1792.

There Was No Electricity Until 1891

Many assume that the White House would have used new technologies as soon as possible to keep the president up to date with his contemporaries. However, the White House didn’t immediately welcome electricity into it. Despite Edison bringing electricity to major cities like Manhattan in the 1880s, the White House wasn’t wired until 1891. The first lady at the time, Caroline Harrison, oversaw the renovation. However, neither she nor the rest of the first family used it. They were afraid of electrocution.

The White House Burned on Christmas in 1929

Did you know there were two fires in the White House? Many know about the first fire in 1841, which the British intentionally set in retribution for North Americans burning Canada’s parliament. The White House accidentally burned again on Christmas Eve in 1929 because of a blocked fireplace flue. President Herbert Hoover tried to work in the oval office and help with firefighting efforts until the Secret Service removed him from the premise.

Engineers Declared the White House Structurally Unsound in 1948

It’s no surprise that after several fires, wars, and the Great Depression, the White House was declared structurally unsound in 1948. Safety officials forced President Truman and his family to relocate to Blair House, often used as the president’s guest house, until the structure was safe. However, Blair House had fewer security measures than the White House, and there was an assassination attempt in 1950. However, Truman survived and went on to implement massive restoration and renovation efforts. Builders completed them in 1952.

There Was Asbestos in the West Wing in 2019

You might think that after centuries of restorations and renovations, the White House structure would finally be safe. Think again! People discovered asbestos in the west wing of the White House in 2019 during Trump’s presidency, forcing many of his senior staff members to temporarily relocate. Professionals performed asbestos abatement, which differs from remediation, and declared the west wing safe that summer.

The White House has endured many changes but remains one of the world’s most iconic buildings. These surprising facts you didn’t know about the building only make it a more fascinating historic structure to see in person, whether you’re a local or a tourist.

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