THE WHITE HOUSE
On the afternoon of November 1, 1800, an unannounced coach rolled to a stop before a grand but unfinished edifice in a weedy field in the new capital of Washington, D.C. John Adams climbed out and wandered inside the building, thus becoming the first president to occupy what we now call the White House. The next day, he wrote his wife: "I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise me ever rule under this roof."
When Abigail arrived two weeks later, she was disappointed by the unready state of the home, but she made the best of it. "The great unfinished audience room I made a drying room of, to hang up the clothes in," she wrote her daughter.
In the republic's early days, people called the mansion the President's House. The name White House came into use after workers whitewashed its stone walls. (Today the building is painted white. It takes 570 gallons to cover the outside.) The mansion was badly damaged buy rebuilt after the British burned it in 1814, during the War of 1812. It has been the home of every president except George Washington.
The White House is considered the First Family's private home, and each president has made a few changes. The Residence (the living-quarters portion of the White House) has 6 levels, 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 412 doors, and 28 fireplaces to accomodate all the people living, working, and visiting there. Recreation facilities include a movie theater, bowling lane, swimming pool, jogging track, and tennis court.
Thomas Jefferson, the third president, opened the White House for tours. Since then, except during wartime, the home of America's head of state has remained open to the public, free of charge.
(The American Patriot's Almanac)