- from Washington, D.C.
Could you live in a house where the roof leaks? Where the walls don’t have any plaster, and the “yard” is a big field of mud?
That’s what the president’s house was like in 1800, when John and Abigail Adams were the first to move in. Because there was no yard where laundry could dry, Mrs. Adams had wet sheets hung in the large drafty hall at the east end of the house.
But work on the house continued. And by the time James Madison took office in 1809, his charming wife, Dolley, could throw big parties there. She often served ice cream, which made it a popular treat in the U.S. But these parties ended in 1814. That’s when the British attacked Washington and set the mansion on fire.
When it was rebuilt, the house was painted white to cover burn marks on the stone. From then on it was unofficially known as the White House. President Theodore Roosevelt, who served from 1901 to 1909, had “The White House” printed on his stationery. That’s when the name became official.
Over the years, the White House has seen many changes. It now has 132 rooms and 35 bathrooms.