If there's anything to take away from former or current White House officials, it's that the United States government operates under a thick veil of secrecy. The stories of the White House's mysterious rooms prove that even the president's home isn't immune to the confidentiality that shrouds DC politics. The Lincoln Bedroom, the Blue Room, and the Situation Room are among the more famous sections of the White House. But there are lesser-known White House rooms that are often overlooked, mainly because the focus is on the splendor of the Queens' Bedroom or the historical and political significance of the Oval Office. However, don't let their obscurity fool you; the less-talked-about rooms are just as interesting as their more famous counterparts. And a few of them are even downright bizarre.
So, you're no longer restricted to staying on the plastic runner or behind the velvet rope, as these stories provide an up-close look at some of the White House rooms you never knew existed.
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The White House's Family Theater is a 42-seat movie theater in the East Wing. Originally a cloakroom, the space was transformed into a screening room by Franklin Roosevelt in 1942. Four overstuffed armchairs can be found in front of the theater-style seating, reserved for the president and the First Family.
Despite the lack of a dedicated room, the tradition of White House movie showings began well before 1942; the now-reviled silent film Birth of a Nation was screened in the Central Hall in 1915.
All First Families have put the Family Theater to good use since it was built. President Trump's first movie screening was Finding Dory.
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William Howard Taft erected the Solarium as a cool and comfortable place for the First Family to sleep on hot summer nights. Also called the Sky Room or the Sun Room, the Solarium has been remodeled a few times over the years, and has been a favorite spot for many presidents. JFK's daughter Caroline even attended school in the Solarium.
In 1974, Nixon called a family meeting in the Solarium to inform them of his decision to resign. In 1981, First Lady Nancy Reagan was in the Solarium when she learned her husband had been shot.
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The Chocolate Shop is a small kitchen located in the basement of the White House and is used for making all types of chocolate treats for large events and dinners. Over the years, several other sweet additions have been built, including a pastry kitchen devoted to the making of cakes, cookies, pies, and other flaky, dough-laden goodies.
The Chocolate Shop is especially busy around Easter, when the White House Easter Egg Roll takes place; confectioners prepare massive chocolate bunnies, eggs, and other seasonally themed treats for attendees to enjoy.
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This incredible one-lane bowling alley was built in the White House basement at the request of the Nixons in 1969. As it turns out, both President Nixon and the first lady were massive bowling enthusiasts. Originally, President Truman had a bowling alley built in 1947; however, since Truman wasn't a big bowler, the alley was replaced with a mimeograph room. Today, the same space is utilized as the Situation Room.
The current bowling alley may be small, but it is insanely popular. In the first three years of the Obama presidency alone, the White House visitor log recorded more than 4,100 visitors to the bowling alley.