- from Washington, D.C.
Could you live in a house where the roof leaks? Where the walls have no plaster, and the “yard” is just mud?
That’s what the president’s house was like in 1800. John and Abigail Adams were the first people to live there. Because there was no yard, Mrs. Adams had the staff hang laundry in the large hall at the east end of the house.
Work on the house continued. By the time James Madison took office in 1809, his wife, Dolley, could throw big parties there. She often served ice cream. That’s how ice cream became popular in the U.S. But her parties stopped in 1814, when the British attacked Washington. They set the mansion on fire.
When it was rebuilt, white paint was used to cover the scorched stone. After that, it was unofficially called the White House. President Theodore Roosevelt, who served from 1901 to 1909, had “The White House” printed on his stationery. Then the name became official.
Over the years, the White House has seen many changes. It now has 132 rooms and 35 bathrooms.