The White House has long been a staple of American government and it has gone through a lot of trials and tribulations. The almost mythical building has faced rumors ranging from Willie Nelson's pot-smoking on the roof to past presidents haunting its hallowed halls, but these facts about the White House are cold hard United States trivia that will surprise, enlighten, and entertain. What should you know about the White House? Let's dig into its history and find out!
The White House address, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, is one of the most famous locations on earth. These White House facts not only give insight into the funny presidential anecdotes and great bits of trivia, but they also give readers a history of the White House. Peruse this list for stories about presidents like Harry Truman and both President Roosevelts as well as fascinating and awesome pictures of the White House. These photos, accompanied by fun facts, will undoubtedly make you want to visit the Presidential Palace.
- Photo: Robert Cruickshank, The Playfair Papers, Published in London by Saunders and Otley in 1841, v. 2 / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain1
In The 19th Century, Members Of The Public Could Just Wander Into The White House And Meet The President
As the "People's House" and in the spirit of democratic inclusion, the White House was initially open to public access. During the Thomas Jefferson years, for example, the public often picknicked on the White House grounds and the president encouraged them to wander around inside the building. Zachary Taylor even welcomed anyone into his office who wanted to see him, even if it was just to meet the president.
By the late 19th century, stricter measures were gradually put in place to close the White House grounds at certain times and erect new fencing around the property. During World War II, the Secret Service further tightened security around the White House, a tradition that continues into the 21st century.
It Didn't Have Running Water Until 1833
The White House didn't get running water until 1833. At first, it supplied drinking water and pools that could be used to put out fires. The White House sourced its water from the Potomac, and this would become a health issue: Abraham Lincoln's 11-year-old son Willie succumbed to typhoid, likely after drinking contaminated water from the river. Similarly, William Henry Harrison may have passed after consuming unclean water.
Running water seems to have been limited to the first floor of the building at first. The White House had to wait another 20 years for its second floor to get running water. Thanks to Franklin Pierce, these additions included hot water.
Presidential Ghosts Are Said To Haunt The Place
The White House has stood for more than two centuries and has seen more than its fair share of tragedies. So it's not surprising that the building is said to be haunted by a variety of ghosts.
Among the specters that supposedly haunt the White House are presidential ghosts. Illustrious residents and guests like First Lady Grace Coolidge and Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands all claimed that they encountered Abraham Lincoln's ghost. The ghosts of Harry Truman and Andrew Jackson are also believed to haunt the White House.
- Photo: Pete Souza (Executive Office of the President of the United States) / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain4
Barack Obama Became The First Brewer-In-Chief
Barack Obama apparently became the first brewer-president when he and his team created White House Honey Ale and Honey Porter. To produce the beer, Obama's brewers used honey that was sourced from White House grounds.
No other president may have brewed beer at the White House before Obama, but that doesn't mean he's the only Commander-in-Chief who likes creating his own alcohol. George Washington's enslaved workers brewed beer for him at Mount Vernon, as did Thomas Jefferson's at Monticello.