THE WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON, D.C. "I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but the wise men ever rule under this roof." - John Adams writing to Abigail Adams on Nov 2, 1800.         HISTORY      Since the White House was constructed, it has been a staple of democracy, freedom, America and the American people.  Before Washington D.C. became the nation’s capital, it was a little place with no working roads and no docks for boats.  After the end of the Revolution, and the inauguration of the General George Washington as the nation’s first President in 1789, people were debating where the President should live.  While this issue was being debated in Congress, President Washington lived in three houses; 2 in New York and 1 in Philadelphia.        The history of the White House starts in 1790, when George Washington signed an Act of Congress declaring a patch of land on the Potomac River as the permanent capital of the United States.  Washington named this land the District of Colombia after Christopher Columbus.  Washington, along with city planner Pierre L’Enfant, selected the site for the Executive Mansion; 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. While the new federal city was under construction (the Capitol Building and White House), Philadelphia was named as the temporary capital city from 1790-1800.        At this point, it was time to decide what type of house the President will live in.  Would it be a mansion built for “Kings” or a more modest house for the first family to reside?  A contest was advertised in newspapers all across the country. A committee picked a simple but elegant design by James Hoban, an Irish American architect.  Hoban was awarded $500 for having his design picked and in October 1792, the White House would be the first building developed in the nation’s permanent capital.                Hoban’s winning drawing        For the two terms (1789-1797) Washington served as President, President Washington oversaw the construction of the house, however never had a chance to live in it.  This is due to the fact that the Mansion was not completed until 1800, three years after Washington left office. John Adams, the second president of the United States, was the first to live in the White House in November 1800.  Fifteen days later, he was joined by his wife Abigail. Story has it that Abigail Adams hung her laundry up to dry in the East Room because she thought it would be bad manners to hang the president's laundry outside. The Adams would only spend a few months in the new “Presidents House” in Washington, D.C., as President Adams was defeated in the 1800 election to our third President, Thomas Jefferson, after only one term in office (1797-1801).        By the time our third president, Thomas Jefferson, moved into the White House in 1801, most of the outside structures were finished and was the largest residential house in America.  However, Jefferson was not terribly impressed by the House.  He ordered several structural changes, including the addition of terrace- pavilions on either side of the main building and single-story wings for storage.   Jefferson also ordered wallpaper and furniture from France. Every president since, has ordered special things for the house.. During this time, the building was called the President's Palace, and then the President's House.  In 1809, James Madison took the oath of office as our 4th President.  It was not soon after that, that England attempted to reclaim the old colonies.    THE WAR OF 1812      United States' declared of war on Britain in 1812, when the British sailed for the Eastern seaboard of the United States. On August 24, 1812, under the cover on night, Rear Admiral George Cockburn (r.) marched sailors towards Washington. At that time, the White House was in crisis mode.  People were trying to save everything of value that they could.  Interesting fact; the first lady, fearing that if British captured the White House that they would make a mockery of Gilbert Stuart's portrait of George Washington, entrusted it to two visitors, who removed it from the frame and fled with it through Georgetown. 150 British sailors, led by Rear Admiral Cockburn, entered the White House at about 11:00pm.  It had been said that the sailors found the table set for dinner, dined, drank and took souvenirs.  The sailors stood in a circle outside the house and hurled torches through the already broken windows, igniting the house and burning it to its stone walls.  The White House had fallen.        The loss of the White House had a profound effect on Americans. After a brief effort to relocate the capital to Cincinnati (in order to keep the capital safe from being attack from the Atlantic Ocean again), Congress approved the repair of the public buildings in Washington (The White House and The Capital building), and Madison insisted that the White House be rebuilt to match the original structure. It was rebuilt in 1817, and the new building has persisted through many revisions and crises since, including another fire in 1929 under the Hoover Administration. Earliest known photograph of the White House, taken in 1846 by John Plumbe          In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt commissioned a major expansion, including a new area for his staff to use as office space now known as the West Wing. Half a century later, between 1948 and 1952, during Harry S. Truman's presidency, the interior of the house (with the exception of the third floor) was substantially renovated while the Truman’s lived at Blair House, right across the street. This renovation included building new foundations and a steel framework to strengthen the original sandstone walls. As a result, the number of rooms was increased from 62 to 132.        Here are some final interesting historical facts about the White House; The White House contains 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, and 6 levels. There are also 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases, and 3 elevators. With five full-time chefs, the White House kitchen is able to serve dinner to as many as 140 guests.  In its 200 years, the White House has been home to a lot of history. President James Madison signed the nation's first declaration of war in the Green Room in 1812. The bodies of Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy both lay in state in the East Room. And countless heads of state have been received in the Blue Room. In addition to all the hard work, many presidents also left a lighter touch on the White House. Dwight Eisenhower installed a putting green, Richard Nixon installed a bowling alley, and Bill Clinton installed a jogging track.     THE HAUNTING OF THE WHITE HOUSE   Everyone who has ever stepped foot into the White House definitely seems to agree there is some sort of presence there. This is often attributed to the Lincoln family, who often conducted séances in the White House in hopes of gaining contact with their deceased son who died at age 11 of typhoid fever.   There are stories that When President Lincoln was still alive, he had told a friend that he dreamt of his own death. He dreamt of hearing people mourning, only to go to the East Room of the White House where he saw a casket and a room full of mourners. He demanded from a guard to know who had died in the White House, and the guard responded, "The President. He was killed by an assassin."   Abraham Lincoln is the most frequently mentioned ghostly visitor. Former President Theodore Roosevelt and Former First Lady Grace Coolidge reported seeing a tall figure in spirit form that looked a lot like President Lincoln. One room that the spirit of Lincoln seems to favor is notorious Lincoln bedroom.  As legend has it, one night, a guest was staying in that room and was awoken in the middle of the night by a knock on the door. When she got out of bed and looked to see who it was that knocked on her door, standing there was the transparent figure of Lincoln. Seeing him startled her so bad that she fainted and was found the next morning laying on the floor (there are rumors that the person staying in the room was Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands).  Mary Eben, Mrs. Roosevelt's secretary said she saw Lincoln in his boots while he sat on the bed.  Britain's Winston Churchill refused to sleep in the Lincoln bedroom after claiming to see Lincoln's ghost lurking about.  During one of Churchill's visits to the United States during World War II, he spent the night in the Lincoln Bedroom. Churchill went to bed late one night after relaxing in a long, hot bath, drinking a Scotch and smoking a cigar. The legend says that he came out of the bath naked, except for his cigar, and walked into the bedroom. He is said to have seen Abraham Lincoln standing by the fireplace in the room, leaning on the mantle.                 Lincoln is not the only sprit seen roaming the halls of the White House. The spirit of Anne Surratt has been seen pounding on the front doors of the White House.  Her mother, Mary Surratt was executed in 1865 for her part in the conspiracy to assassinate President Lincoln. Her daughter Anne is said to appear on the steps of the White House on every July 7, the anniversary of her mother's trip to the scaffolds pounding on the north entrance of the White House. The spirit of a British soldier from the War of 1812 is also said to walk the grounds in front of the White House at night. The apparition is said to be holding a blazing torch in his hand.        The spirit of Dorothea Paine "Dolley" Madison, wife of President James Madison appeared in the Rose Garden most frequently during the administration of Woodrow Wilson. Mrs. Madison planted the first Rose Garden 100 years earlier.  It’s been said that, when First Lady Ellen Wilson decided to remove the garden, Dolley appeared to the workmen dismantling it and kept the men from carrying out their job. They fled and the Rose Garden remains and no one as dared to harm the garden since.        Here’s a cool story.  A different kind of spirit that has been seen inside the White House is that of a black cat, or “Demon Cat”. The ghost cat is almost always seen in the basement area, and there is a legend that goes with this cat’s appearance. When it appears, a national disaster is likely to occur within a short period of time. A guard claimed to have seen the “Demon Cate” a week before the great stock market crash of the 1920s; it was also seen right before Lincoln and JFK were assassinated.        Abigail Adams is another haunter of the House. John Adams was the first President to live in the White House. It was drafty and damp, with the exception of the East Room where, as mentioned in the history, his wife hung the wash.  White House staffers have reported seeing the ghost of Abigail Adams, wife of President John Adams, scurrying to the East Room to hang laundry in this room since it was the least dark and damp.  There were dozens of sightings of her ghost during the Taft administration, and to this day, Abigail Adams can sometimes be seen hurrying towards the East Room with her arms outstretched as if she is carrying a load of laundry. In 2002, tourists reported a ghostly figure moving around in the second floor balcony of the East Wing. The East Room is also part of the legend of Abraham Lincoln. His body lay in state in this room, just as he dreamed it would.         I saved this last bit of legend for the end.  During the renovations of the White House during the Truman administration, a photo was taken during construction and captured something interesting. Is it a problem with exposure or evidence of the paranormal? You decide.