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Why is the American Presidential Home called the White House?

March 17th, 2009

The White House is a very prominent structure not only in the United States, but all over the world.  It is the official home and primary workplace of the President of the US.  A lot of people dream of visiting the White House to see the home of the Leader of the New World.

Students are given field trips and tours around the White House.  People living in Washington DC or people who pass Pennsylvania Avenue might have had a glimpse of the White House on their way home, to work or to school.

But as popular as the White House is, not many people know of its history.  An interesting question that often comes to mind is why the American presidential home is called the White House.

There are many stories regarding the origins of this name.  A lot of individuals happen to believe that it’s called the White House simply because it was painted as white.  They seem satisfied with this answer and do not dig deeper to the true reason why the White House is called as such.

Another common theory is that when the American presidential home was burned by the British in the year 1814, white paint was applied during restoration, to hide the damages of the fire.  A lot of children in school might have been taught this reason by their teachers.

But not many people know the true reason behind the name White House.  During the year 1798, when the walls to the building was newly finished, lime-based whitewash was used in order to protect the porous stone from getting frozen.  This was the first time the building appeared white.

The house was then subsequently painted as white for reasons not known.  It could be that the presidents wanted to restore the look of the walls as the whitewash wore away and became dirty to look at.

Originally, the term “White House” was only a nickname of the American presidential home.  Its use was first recorded on March 18, 1812 when Congressman Abijah Bigelow sent a letter to his colleague using the nickname “White House” to refer to the presidential home.

It remained a nickname until Theodore Roosevelt authorized it and made it formal and official in September 1901.  And until now, it is still being used to refer to the presidential home of the United States.

That is how the American presidential home came to be called as the White House.

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