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The Top Five Facts You Didn't Know About the White House

Why is the White House white? Where did presidents live before it was built? There are so many questions to ask about the familiar building, and in this list, Curbed hopes to answer the most peculiar ones like, "What was the food like back in the day?" While browsing through our list of White House facts, you can browse through an interactive map of the building, itself, on the White House website as well to learn more.


1. The first U.S. president to live inside the White House was John Adams.
John Adams, the second U.S. president, didn't begin residing in the White House until November 1, 1800, the third year of his four year term. Beforehand, both he and President George Washington lived on a ridge north of Tiber Creek with spectacular views of the Potomac River. Currently, that very ridge is being used as an underground conduit. The design for the White House was chosen by a competition, which was won by Irish-born architect James Hoban. The design of the White House was modeled after the Leinster House in Dublin, Ireland.


2. The White House wasn't called the White House for almost 100 years.
The White House has been known as many things, including the "President's Palace," the "President's House," and the "Executive Mansion," according to the White House website. It wasn't until 1901 — 101 years after construction of the building was completed — that U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt made the White House name official.


4. The color of the White House was chosen by the masons.
The masons of the White house chose the color white for the building in order to cover the sandstone. By using a whitewash, the walls were protected from rain and snow. To cover the facade of the White House, it takes up to 570 gallons of paint.


4. The White House kitchen used to serve terrible food thanks to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
Known as "the first Housewife of the nation," First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt totally transformed the White House kitchen with the intention of providing "good and well-cooked food." After finding the standards in the kitchen to be sub-par, she renovated the kitchen to have professional grade appliances and hired cookbook writer and journalist Sheila Hibben to advise the kitchen staff on a variety of dishes. Rather than rely on the advice of Hibben, though, Roosevelt utilized recipes created at Cornell University's Home Economics department, which recommended using little to no herbs or spices. According to the New Yorker, "Eleanor launched the most notorious era in the culinary history." Nowadays, there are five full-time chefs that work in the White House kitchen who are able to serve dinner to 140 guests and hors d'oeuvres to more than 1,000 guests


5. You can tour the White House while at your desk.
With this interactive map on the White House website, you can explore everything from the Oval Office to the White House kitchen to the gardens outside. While browsing through each level and wing in the map, there are various rooms that you can click on to learn more about what work is conducted inside and what important events occurred there. For example, did you know that the wallpaper in the Diplomatic Room was hand-picked by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy?

· Inside the White House Interactive Tour [White House]
· Inside the White House [White House]
· The First Kitchen [The New Yorker]

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, , DC 20500