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The architecture of the White House is classical while regal, honoring royal British and ancient Greek times. In a neoclassical and Palladian style, the presidential residence has seen many changes throughout its history.
The inspiration for the building came from the only president that didn’t live there, George Washington, who designed it like an English country house with architect James Hoban.
John Adams moved into the White House in 1800 for just 4 short months at the end of his term. With over 100 rooms, Adams frequently commented the residence was "too big."
In the War of 1812, British troops marched to Washington and set the White House ablaze, destroying everything but the outer walls. Hoban restored it by 1817.
The building was first painted white after the fire. Although commonly called the “White House,” it wasn’t official until 1902 when Theodore Roosevelt made it so.
Despite a second great fire, the same outer walls and classical style that Hoban designed remain intact today -- a cultural icon that has withstood over 200 years.
Tours through the White House are in fact available. The tour is free and self-guided, but requires quite a bit of planning in advance. It’s required to apply through your member of Congress or foreign U.S. Embassy 6 months to 21 days in advance. Find your representative here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/.
Alternatively, if timing doesn’t allow, the White House Visitor Center at 1450 Pennsylvania Ave. is open 7 days a week until 4:00PM. Here you’ll find exhibits and more information on this history behind the building and its legendary residents.
- When to visitTues - Thurs 7:30AM to 11:30AM. Fri - Sat 7:30AM to 1:30PM.
- What is the price?Free!
- Will I need a guide?Nope! Hard as it is to believe, you can roam the White House alone!
- How to get thereTake the Metrorail to Federal Triangle or Metro Center.
- Additional tipsThere are a number of prohibited items so be sure to take a gander at the rules and regulations before you visit.
What People Are Saying About White House
if the weather had been better the tour guide would have been more engaged; hard to communicate in windy cold weather and would have liked more info on sites and general info
Thanks for picking us up and dropping us off at our hotel it was much appreciated. It was a cold night and that made it more fun.
I am still laughing & smiling from this tour. I actually learned a ton of information about DC & the monuments. The twightlight tour was just awesome. I was able to capture some remarkable pictures. But what truly made this thee BEST tour ever were the knowledgeable, friendly, hilarious, exceptional guys in charge of the tour. Charles, Henry, & Terrell were truly phenomenal gentlemen that provided a tour I never will forget. I loved seeing the city & found it to be a pleasure to have had them as my guide. I was really impressed by their knowledge, passion, & personable nature. Thank you!!
The Segway tour was a great way to get introduced to Washington DC. I thought the tour was a good half hour to an hour too long. Maybe make it two hours and charge $55 bucks. Thanks!
I would have paid a bit more to add an hour to the tour! Supreme Court would have been a nice stop, and the stop at Lincoln Memorial/Vietnam Wall was only 15 minutes to see BOTH places?? Did not like having to choose, because both were important for us to visit! We are somewhat disabled, so trying to go back on our own was NOT an option. Adding an hour would make for a better tour, but still a good tour.