10 Fun White House Facts
Whether or not you like who’s currently occupying the White House, I think we can all agree that many great leaders past have called it home. And as a realtor, I’m interested in the big white mansion on Penn Ave. itself. How many bathrooms are there? What kind of acreage are we talking? Any special amenities?
Since today is President’s Day, I thought I’d do some digging to learn more about this glorious and historical property. Here are 10 fun White House facts and special features from a real estate agent’s perspective:
1. The White House has a whopping 35 bathrooms, which make up over a quarter of the 132 total rooms.
2. Not all those bathrooms have great water pressure though. Apparently, Lyndon Johnson made a plumber crazy over his incessant requests for higher water pressure. Ultimately, he got his way, with a shower comprised of multiple nozzles with INTENSE pressure. When Nixon arrived, he did away with the whole thing.
3. John Adams had the privilege of being the first White House occupant. The building was still under construction when George Washington was in office. Oh, and President’s Day? Our country originally instituted it in 1885 to celebrate George Washington’s birthday. It eventually evolved to be a celebration for all presidents past and present and another excuse for our nation to institute a three-day weekend.
4. The White House has more amenities than the Four Seasons. We’re talking a tennis court, track, swimming pool, bowling lane, billiard room, and movie theater.
5. 1600 Pennsylvania Ave has gone by more names than one. Before Teddy Roosevelt officially dubbed it the White House in 1901, the American people had referred to it as the President’s Palace and the Executive Mansion.
6. The White House has been through fire and brimstone–literally. In 1814, British troops rudely invaded, devoured leftovers they found in the White House kitchen on White House plateware, then trashed the place and set it afire. James and Dolley Madison had already fled upon news of the British arrival, but little did they know they’d never call the White House home again. It took until 1817 to repair the bloody damage, and by then, Monroe had become POTUS.
7. Presidents have 18 whopping acres around which to stroll and ponder the political burdens on their shoulders. The White House itself has a footprint of 55,000 sf.
8. White was not an intentional aesthetic choice. In 1798, the government whitewashed the thing in order to protect the porous stone from which it was constructed. To keep it looking fresh, they kept up the whitewashing until they finally coated the whole building in white lead paint in 1818.
9. In the late ’70s, Carter installed 32 solar hot water panels on the White House roof. In 1981, one of Reagan’s first moves was to scrap the renewable energy, calling it “a joke.” The originals now grace the roof of a college cafeteria in Maine (?!). But since, George W. Bush reintroduced panels and Obama upped the solar ante, while also making the whole building more energy efficient.
10. The White House is allegedly haunted! Should we be surprised? Of course not. Several people have died within the white walls, and so many more have called it home. A few people–including PM Winston Churchill–claimed to have seen the ghost of Lincoln lurking in his former bedroom. You can hear the late Andrew Jackson laughing from his bed. And a mysterious British soldier from the War of 1812 supposedly wanders the property torch in hand.