White House History:
The White House, owned by the government, is the home of each President while he or she is in office. If the resident is at home, a flag flies from the roof. If he or she is not at home, the flag is taken down.
The cornerstone for the "President's Palace" was laid in October 1792. A young architect, James Hoban, won $500.00 for designing the plans. It was eight years before the house could be occupied. It was not completed during George Washington's term. John Adams was the first President to live there. The East Room, which is now the grand reception room and ballroom, was still just four brick walls then, so Mrs. Adams hung up her washing there.
Since then many Presidents have added to the White House. Thomas Jefferson changed its name to "The President's House." In 1902, Congress passed a special law to name it the "White House."
(See the "Welcome to the White House" page or the "White House for Kids" page on the Internet for more information.)
In 1948, while Harry Truman was President, he began to notice strange creaking noises. All the pipes and wiring that had been added over the years to make the house more modern had caused the foundation and walls to weaken. The building could have collapsed at any time!
(Read "The White House Was Falling Apart," an excerpt from Harry S. Truman by Margaret Truman Daniels for a first-hand account.)
Next: Initial investigation