SURPRISING Facts About The White House

11 months ago
The White House is one of the most recognizable buildings in the entire world. Built in the 1800s, the White House has had a long history intertwined with the United States. It has been burnt down, rebuilt, and modified throughout the decades, but it still stands as one of the most important buildings in the United States.

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5. No Free Food
As the President of the United States, you probably think everything related to living in the White House is free. That is partially true since presidents don’t have to pay for rent or utility bills. However, the first family does have to pay a monthly bill for their stay at the White House.

Each month, the first family receives a bill detailing all of the expenses they are responsible for paying. This bill includes everything from dry cleaning to the hourly wages for waiters and cleanup personnel. The bill even includes all of the meals the first family ate during the month. Even more interesting is that the total every month is compiled not only from activities at the White House, but it also includes anything that happens at the president’s retreat at Camp David.

4. Mini Mall
Since the White House is one of the most active buildings in the world, it requires special services to be on call twenty-four hours a day. Everyone from florists to cooks need to be ready to receive heads of state and other important government personnel at a moments notice. What most people might not know is that the basement of the White House has been designed to help the building be as self-sufficient as possible.

Underneath the White House is a small collection of stores and shops that make the area into a mini-mall. You have probably heard of the Bowling Alley in the basement of the White House, but there is also a Carpenters’ shop, Flower shop, and even a dentist's’ office. Rooms like the Carpenters’ Shop repairs furniture and aids in maintaining the old building, while the Flower Shop is responsible for preparing floral arrangements for parties and events.

The White House basement has been upgraded over the years to help the building maintain a self-sufficiency required of such an important and busy government building.

3. Basic Utilities
Ever since the White House was rebuilt in 1817, it has gone through many upgrades. Utilities such as plumbing were not added until 1833 during Andrew Jackson's presidency. Electricity was finally added to the White House in 1891, but the first family did not start using it right away.

In the late 1800s, electricity was still a new and mostly unused technology. People living in the United States favored gas lights as their go-to for light at night. Some government buildings added electrical lighting to help spread the new technology. Electrical light switches were first installed in 1891 in the White House. Unfortunately, the new technology went unused by President Benjamin Harrison and his wife. They both feared electrical shock if they used the new electrical switches.

This fear resulted in lights staying on in the White House for many nights until they finally used the switches.

2. Construction and Upkeep
As most people know, George Washington was not the first president to live in the White House. That honor went to John and Abigail Adams who moved into the residence in 1800. However, George Washington was the president who chose the physical location of the building. It took over eight years of construction to finish the White House. There are no exact numbers of how much the building cost to construct, but historians have estimated it costed $232,000. When adjusted for inflation, the cost of building the residence rises to over 100 million dollars.

A lot of work goes into maintaining the historic residence. Current estimates range from $750,000 to over 1.5 million in maintenance goes into the White House every year. Some estimate the white house requires over 560 gallons of paint, totaling over $20,000.

1. Celebrity Coffee Makers
The White House welcomes many respected dignitaries and celebrities every year. Many of these people may bring a small gift to the president and the staff that work in the White House. However, one celebrity, in particular, has a recurring gift he gives to the White House every few years.

Tom Hanks started his now well-known tradition in 2004 during George W. Bush’s administration. In 2004 Tom Hanks was given a tour of the press briefing room. After finding that the break room had no coffee maker, he sent an expensive coffee maker to the press with a handwritten note.

Tom Hanks has been gifting new coffee makers for the press every few years. Whenever he visits the White House, he tries to make his way to the press briefing room to visit the usually dirty coffee maker.

SURPRISING Facts About The White House

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