The White House, while planned by President George Washington and city architect Pierre l'Enfant, was never lived in by Washington, but has housed every single U.S. president since his successor John Adams moved in 1801. Originally called simply the Executive Mansion, the name the White House stuck after the building was whitewashed to cover the fire damage in 1814 during the War of 1812.
The White House is the oldest public building in Washington DC, and the only private residence of a head of state that has opened its doors to the public for tours, free of charge. This practice was started by Thomas Jefferson, and is stopped only during wartime. The mansion's construction was started in 1792, based on the design of an Irish country house. This design has been retained over the years, in spite of various renovations and expansions.
The White House is famous for its many public rooms named after colors. The Blue Room is at the center of the State Floor and is the location where the President formally receives guests. The Green Room is used as a sitting room, and was originally a dining room during Jefferson's tenure. The Red Room is used as a reception room, usually for afternoon teas.
In addition, there is the East Room, used for hosting large parties and receptions. The West Wing was added in 1902 to separate the working quarters from the president's private quarters, and of course, the famous Oval Office is used by the president.
- Public tours of the White House are available for groups of 10 or more people. Requests must be submitted through one's Member of Congress and are accepted up to six months in advance. These self-guided tours are available from 7:30am to 12:30pm, Tuesday through Saturday (excluding federal holidays), and are scheduled on a first come, first served basis approximately one month in advance of the requested date. We encourage you to submit your request as early as possible since a limited number of tours are available.
- All White House tours are free of charge. For the most current tour information, please call the 24-hour line at 202-456-7041. Please note that White House tours may be subject to last minute cancellation.
- Metro Stop:
- Blueline or Orangeline to the McPherson Square Station
- Location: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Washington DC
- Phone: 202-456-1414
- Website: www.whitehouse.gov