The White House
Table of Contents
The White House is always associated with power, regime, and the American heritage. The building’s history is well known, and this paper will attempt to find out who designed and built it. It will also explore when it was constructed, who decided to put it up and why, what materials were used, and where the labor came from among other issues.
The History of the White House
The first President of the United States of America, Mr. George Washington, built the White House (“Inside the White House,” n.d.). The year it was constructed was marked with major infrastructural developments as the President initiated the idea of a private highway. He also signed the Postal Service Act signaling a move from the courier services. The country was young, and the President’s development agenda covered every area of the American economy including securing a living space for the future leaders of the state.
James Hoban designed the building. He was an Irish-born architect (“Inside the White House,” n.d.). His design was competitive and pleased the President so much that even after the fire of 1814, he was recalled to rebuild the White House using the same architectural design he had presented almost twenty years before the event. Although future alterations were suggested in the late 19th century, none was adopted, and the original design still remains.
The White House was constructed because the President needed an official residence as well as offices to conduct business. It was also intended to host foreign dignitaries and act as a private venue for political discussions. At the time of its building, the country was still young and required all these facilities. Therefore, President George Washington initiated its construction to serve the above-mentioned functions for both the present and the future heads of the nation.
The building took eight years. The works began in October 1792, and by 1800, most of the house was completed (“Inside the White House,” n.d.). George Washington never had a chance to live there; it was his successor, Mr. John Adams, and his family who moved in upon its completion. Washington was the capital of the United States, and therefore, it made sense to build the President’s residence and offices there. The city was also the center of politics offering another strategic reason for the White House to be located there. The building stands on eighteen acres of land (“The White House,” n.d.).
The White House is one of the priciest pieces of property in America. Its current market value is estimated to be over one hundred and ten million dollars (Tau, 2012). However, initially it cost between $232 thousand and $372 thousand. It is among the most expensive projects the government has undertaken. Its construction was approved by the Congress. However, it faced minimal resistance including the occasional disagreements on the quality of building materials and structural designs and workforce.
To construct the White House, both skilled and unskilled labor was required. The initial plan was to source workers from Europe, but when it was not achieved, the government opted to use the African Americans both free and slaves (“Inside the White House,” n.d.).
The whites did most of the skilled job while the African Americans performed the bulk of the manual unskilled work. The latter were responsible for fashioning the raw materials as well as the actual construction. During the summer, all persons worked for seven days in order to compensate for winter days.
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The white laborers performed work such as masonry and carpentry. Most of them were skilled British immigrants. Slaves were valued because they were a cheap source of labor, and this assisted in lowering the cost of construction. Their annual pay between sixty and seventy dollars was remitted to their masters (Arnebeck, 2014). According to Arnebeck (2014), both slaves and white laborers were hired on the same terms and received food, shelter, and medical care from the commissioners.
When the White House was being constructed, the actual piece of land it presently stands on was considered remote. The site posed logistical problems with respect to transportation of the materials. The quarries, lumber and hardware supplies stores were quite a distance from the actual construction site. As a result, the materials were transported to the place using both road and rail. In eight years, the White House was nearly complete. It had taken marble from Maryland, Aquia Creek sandstone from the Potomac River, red brick and lumber to build it.
Over the years, the building was renovated several times to suit the tastes and styles of different heads of the states and their families. The White House has survived fires of 1814 and 1829, and in 1952, it underwent major renovations that saw everything else dismantled apart from the outer walls. Currently, the building is not only a political and power symbol but also a heritage site. Thousands of people visit it each year. Therefore, it is one of the well-maintained and protected structures.
The White House was constructed between 1972 and 1800. Although Mr. Washington, the first President, did not get to live in it, subsequent heads of the states have enjoyed the facility. When the construction began in October 1792, both the whites and African Americans provided the required labor. The building materials were sourced from as far as neighboring states and were transported using both rail and road. Subsequent years have seen the building survive tragic fires and undergo major renovations. However, it still has managed to retain its original purpose and symbolism. The White House is one of America’s most valued architectural possessions.