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Thursday, August 11, 2011


(132 rooms + 35 bathrooms)

The White House is a legitimate mansion and, as such, has many rooms. Currently there are 132 rooms in the White House and there are also 35 bathrooms, 6 floors (levels). Plenty of doors at 412, lots of windows at 147, plenty of warmth from 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases and 3 elevators. There are even a few secret passageways that lead under the White House and a secret bunker that was allegedly used by President John F. Kennedy. Aside from these fun facts here are the rooms in the White House that have actual functionality:

The Blue Room:
One of three parlors that is located on the first floor. It is oval in shape and is used for receptions, receiving lines and sometimes the place for small dinners. This is one of the original rooms in James Hobel’s design.

The Blue Room is located in the center of the State Floor of the White House. The President uses the Blue Room to receive many of his guests, from foreign heads of state to members of Congress. Originally decorated in red, blue was selected as the color for the drapes, upholstery, and carpet during an 1837 refurbishing under President Martin Van Buren. Blue walls were introduced in 1902. It has since been redecorated, but has always maintained its famous blue color scheme. During the holidays, the Blue Room is the location of the official White House’s Christmas tree. 

The Blue Room of the White House, Oct. 8, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)
Over the years, the Blue Room's oval shape and breath-taking view of the South Lawn of the White House have captivated its visitors. The Blue Room has been the customary place for presidents to formally receive guests. Flowers are a traditional decorative feature of the room as is a distinctive marble-top table purchased by James Monroe in 1817.

In this room on June 2, 1886, President Grover Cleveland became the first and only president to be married in the White House. His bride, Frances Folsom, was not only 27 years his junior but also, at the age of 21, the youngest first lady in history.

The Green Room:
Another parlor on the first floor; the Green Room is also oval and used for receptions, receiving lines and small dinners. Cocktails are served in the parlors before the President and First Lady descend the Grand Staircase.

The Green Room of the White House, Feb. 18, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

With its intimate size, green silk-covered walls and early 19th-century American furniture, the Green Room is a favorite White House parlor. The room was referred to as the “Green Drawing Room" as far back as 1825 after a green floor covering was placed there during the Jefferson Administration. In 1961, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy began a program to give a more formal, museum-like character to the public rooms of the White House. The Green Room was one of the notable rooms that Mrs. Kennedy helped redesign. Artwork in the room today includes Henry Ossawa Tanner's Sand Dunes at Sunset, Atlantic City, the first work by an African American artist to be added to the permanent White House collection.

Among the most historically significant events in our nation's history occurred here -- the signing of our first declaration of war. President James Madison officially declared war on the British in 1812 in the Green Room. (Two years later, British forces would burn the Green Room -- and the rest of the White House -- to the ground.)

Decades later, President Abraham Lincoln held the funeral for his youngest son William Wallace here in February of 1862.

The Red Room:
The third parlor on the first floor of the White house. The Red Room is a parlor and music room that is used for small dinner parties at rare times.

The Red Room received its name after red fabrics were used for the draperies, upholsteries and floor covering in the 1840s. Today the walls are covered in a red twill satin fabric with a gold design in the borders, and the furniture is upholstered in a silk of the same shade of red. The rug is a reproduction of a 19th century French Savonnerie carpet installed when First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy refurbished the room.

A person taking the public tour stops in the Red Room of the White House, April 1, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

Beginning in 1809, First Lady Dolley Madison held gatherings every Wednesday in the Red Room to encourage socializing between members of opposing political parties. In 1933, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt used the Red Room to host the first of many press conferences for women reporters who at that time were excluded from the President's press conferences.
The Red Room was also the site of the secret swearing-in of President Rutherford B. Hayes right after his hotly contested defeat of Samuel J. Tilden in the election of 1876. Inauguration fell on a Sunday that year. To avoid a possible coup, he took the oath of office in the Red Room and then again in public on March 5, 1877.

The Cabinet Room:
Located in the West Wing of the White and adjacent to the Oval Office, the Cabinet Room is where the secretaries and advisors gather to hold audience with the President.

The Cabinet Room overlooks the famed Rose Garden. It serves as both a public and private space for presidents to communicate their priorities and receive advice and feedback from cabinet secretaries and advisors. The centerpiece of the room is a large oval table, a ($4000) gift from President Richard M. Nixon in 1970,  that is still used in the room today, surrounded by leather chairs. Each chair is specifically assigned, with a small, engraved brass placard on the back indicating the position of the person meant to sit there.

The President always sits at the center of the table opposite the Vice President with his back to the Rose Garden. Each Cabinet member is assigned a place at the table according to the date that their department was established; the oldest departments are seated closest to the President.

Presidents may select portraits of individuals that reflect their inspiration and governing style to hang in the Cabinet Room. In May 2009, President Barack Obama added a portrait of President Harry S. Truman by Frank O. Salisbury, lent by the Truman Library, to join existing portraits of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt.

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room:
This is a small theater in the West Wing where daily briefings are held by the press secretary. The President sometimes addresses the press and nation.  Constructed in 1970 during the Nixon Administration, the Briefing Room provided more space to accommodate a growing White House Press Corps.

The Press Briefing Room was renamed the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room on February 11, 2000 in honor of James Brady, the White House press secretary who was shot and seriously injured following an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981. In 2006, the press relocated to temporary space in the White House Conference Center while the room underwent the first, full-scale renovation to replace aging utility infrastructure, including failing and inadequate air conditioning and insufficient electrical capacity. Renovation highlights included improved media work space with new work stations and briefing seating. Cooler, energy efficient lighting was installed, along with interactive media screens behind the Press Secretary's podium. The room was also re-wired with more than 500 miles of fiber-optic cable.

President George W. Bush participates in the unveiling of the new Brady Briefing Room on July 11, 2007

Originally constructed in 1933-34 as a therapy pool for the Polio-stricken President Franklin Roosevelt, President Richard Nixon converted the space into the current press briefing room in 1970. Television news had become increasingly popular, and more space was needed to accommodate the networks' video equipment.

A staircase behind the stage provides access to the deep end of the one-time, still intact pool, which contains 18-miles of cables and the signatures of White House staff and celebrities on the original tile walls.

Currently, approximately 200 journalists make up the White House Press Corps. With just 49 chairs in the Briefing Room, the White House Correspondents Association decides who gets the coveted seats. A plaque on each seat displays the name of the news organization to which it is assigned.

Roosevelt Room:
Located in the West Wing; almost nearly center of it, this room acts as the official workplace of the President.

The window-less Roosevelt Room, an all-purpose conference room, was created in 1934. It occupies the original location of President Theodore Roosevelt’s office when the West Wing was built in 1902.  President Richard Nixon named the room in 1969 to honor both Roosevelts – Theodore for building the West Wing and Franklin D. for its expansion. Portraits of both presidents hang in the Roosevelt Room.

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt relocated the Oval Office from the center of the building to the southeast corner in 1934, this room received a skylight.

Today the room is used as a conference room and features a multimedia center for presentations.


China Room:
Until the late 19th century, White House furnishings, including the china services, were sold off at auction to supplement funds for new furnishings. First Lady Caroline Harrison started a china collection to exhibit the tastes of her predecessors. In 1917, First Lady Edith Wilson created the China Room, now home to the famous White House collection.

The China Room of the White House, Jan. 8, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

The red theme in the room matches the red dress worn by First Lady Grace Coolidge in a full-length portrait with her dog, Rob Roy. The display of china, glass and silver tableware is arranged in chronological order from left to right.

The First Lady generally makes use of this room for tea, meeting and small receptions.

State Dining Room:
When Thomas Jefferson became President in 1801, he turned the State Dining Room into his office and used the adjacent Red Room to receive guests and meet visitors. Several years later, President Andrew Jackson improved both the ambiance and odor of the room when he moved the White House stables out from under its windows. President Jackson also officially named the space the State Dining Room.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama pose in the State Dining Room of the White House before the Governors dinner, Feb. 22, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
In the 1902 renovations, the State Dining Room underwent the most dramatic transformation of any room on the State Floor of the White House. Previously, the room had only been able to hold 40 guests for dinner. By removing a staircase, the architects significantly expanded the State Dining Room to its current holding capacity of 140 people.

 During the Obama Administration, state dinners have been held in the larger East Room and in tents on the South Lawn. The State Dining Room has been used for meetings with members of Congress, head of states and other groups.

Treaty Room:
One of the rooms used by the First Family, the Treaty Room is primarily used by the President as a study.

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters Sasha and Malia watch the World Cup soccer game between the U.S. and Japan, from the Treaty Room office in the residence of the White House, Sunday, July 17, 2011.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Lincoln Bedroom:
Most likely the most well known room other than the Oval Office, the Lincoln Bedroom was used as Lincoln’s office. Today it is primarily an award from president’s to their friends and supporters and used as a guest suite.

Lincoln Sitting Room:
Interestingly enough the Lincoln Sitting Room was used as the telegraph room from 1865 to 1902.

The East Room:
Used as the chief area for entertaining the East Room is also the largest room in the White House.

Designed by George Washington and James Hoban as the “public audience room” of the White House, the large East Room has served a variety of formal and informal purposes. First Lady Abigail Adams would hang out her laundry here in the winter of 1800 -1801.

President Barack Obama and guests listen to Wintley Phipps during the Easter Prayer Breakfast in the East Room of the White House, April 19, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Over the years the large, multipurpose space has been the site of weddings, funerals, press conferences, receptions and receiving lines. Upon occasion, President Woodrow Wilson turned the area into a movie theater, and Jacqueline Kennedy used it as a theater for the performing arts.
The room has unfortunately served much more somber ends: The bodies of both Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John Kennedy have lain in state in the East Room. Additionally, during the Civil War, Union troops were at one point quartered in the room.

During the Obama Administration, the East Room has been the site of the signing of the Affordable Care Act in March 2010, as well as a music series to celebrate the arts with performances by Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan and many others.

Map Room:
Located on the ground floor of the White House the Map Room got its name from Franklin Roosevelt’s use of it during World War II. He used it as a situation room where maps of troop movements were hung.

President Barack Obama meets with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama in the Map Room of the White House, Saturday, July 16, 2011.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Early maps of Washington, DC hang in the room, as well as a case of world maps presented by the National Geographic Society and the last situation map prepared in the room for Roosevelt in 1945. From a meeting between President Obama and His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama to a classical music workshop with renowned musicians and local music students – the Map Room serves a number of purposes today.

Oval Office:
By far the most famous room of the White House the Oval Office is the official office of the President. It was created in 1909 as an expansion to the West Wing during the serving of President Taft. It was modeled after the Blue Room.

President Barack Obama sits in the Oval Office on his first day in office, Jan. 21, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Each President may decorate the Oval Office to suit his tastes, though some features remain constant, including the white marble mantel from the original 1909 Oval Office. President Barack Obama chose to retain the famous "Resolute Desk” – recognized in the historic photograph of the young JFK, Jr. peeking out from its panel. Constructed from timbers of H.M.S. Resolute, the desk was presented by Queen Victoria to President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880.

President Barack Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office to discuss ongoing efforts in the debt limit and deficit reduction talks, Sunday, July 31, 2011. Pictured, from left, are: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner; Chief of Staff Bill Daley; National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling; OMB Director Jack Lew; Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett; Bruce Reed, Chief of Staff to the Vice President; and Counsel to the President Kathryn Ruemmler. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

In August 2010, the Oval Office was refurbished for President Obama with striped wallpaper, new sofas, and a mica-clad coffee table. An oval rug features the presidential seal and historical quotes of meaning to President Obama around the border.

Resource(s):  thewhitehouse.gov2020site.org,

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