" Our House, Is A Very Very Very Nice House ", The House At 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Feb 14, 2012
Central Pennsylvania
ex 1866.JPG

I ' think ' this is just post war, what you have to love is how accessible was our most famous to all of us. Children play ' in the back yard ' a young man enjoys what looks like a Spring day. The old conservatory is still there, a massive and wonderful affair filled with both domestic and exotic plants- and a kitchen garden.

ex 1850s.JPG

The earliest photo, Plumbe's, I think 1846- photography had been around for maybe a week.....

A little hard to find ' The Real Story Of The Executive Mansion '. Guessing there would be quite a few reasons one being for all the research out there and descriptions, you'd be forgiven for feeling the place kinda magically appeared between initial planning and move-in day. The House The Tax Payers Built, well, or paid for and enslaved did the work is such an iconic part of our national landscape and stage to so much history

ex 1800 from loc book image.JPG

Images of The White House in flames, set on fire by British Troops tend to feature an awfully similar building to the one we see today- I keep finding this two-story ' mansion ' from 1800. Hogan's original, 3-story design was thought ostentatious for a democracy devoted to the common man.

We have George Washington to thank for the mansion's present site in 1791, a European trained, Irish born architect named James Hogan for answering the government's 1792 published invitation to submit designs for a President's House, and a Dublin manor house described as a ' palace ' owned by the Duke of Leinster ( which is yet another story, exploiting the peasantry another ' let them eat cake or a potato if you can find one' aristocratic backdrop to Leinster's story ) to thank for Hogan's inspiration. They didn't mess around, either- once Hogan's final design was accepted, the cornerstone was also laid in 1792.

Dublin's Leinster House, LoC
ex leinster.JPG

In those days we were still committed to some idea our country was not, in fact, to be where lineage or sheer wealth ran things. Hogan's first design pretty much how it looks today ( maybe a tad more flamboyant )was rejected, 3 stories thought too ' palace ' a dwelling for a democracy's chief. Hogan hacked off one story; it still took enslaved and other craftsmen eight years to complete.

ex 1800 two stories.JPG

From the re-build, post-fire and pre-portico, 1817

President John Adams and Abigail moved in, in 1800. We all know how long that lasted- in 1814, those darn British came for dinner, set fire to our house and made the First Family homeless- or at least forced to into the famous Octagonal House. James and Dolly moved into Hogan's re-built, and newly designed- White House in 1817.
ex 1822.JPG

1822, porticos went on 1824 ( south ), 1829 ( north )

ex 1830 plus.JPG

1830, maybe a year or so later.

ex 1840 taylor.JPG

1840, Taylor's administration

The famous porticos, " South ", was added in 1824, under Monroe, " North ", a few years later under Jackson- 1829.There have been subsequent plans for expanding The White House or scrapping the whole thing- the conservatory in fact vanished as has the stables and any number of out buildings but thankfully we've never gotten around to creating an entirely new address. There it is albeit boy has a lot changed.

Then Plumbe's 1846 photo- and
ex 1854.JPG

And up to 1854. The public had ready access, so much so Mary Lincoln despaired of her curtains. In a day when souvenirs were anything and everything you could carvem hack and walk away with, The White House curtains were frequently replaced- left in shreds after lines of ' favor seekers ' passed by them.

ex 1866 front.JPG

War era, and below, Cassius Clay's regiment, 1861
ex back 1861 cassius clay.JPG

Still Lincoln's House
ex harpers.JPG

And 1877, a Harper's image. It's still there albeit so much less ' ours ' there's just no comparison. That's nothing to do with this particular date, we kinda lost it decades ago- but it's still ours, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
ex 1877 busy harpers.JPG

ex 1870s east.JPG

ex carriages.JPG

I couldn't find the date on this, blown up from one of LoC's stereoviews- quite a bit post war, just unsure when.

All images are LoC or Hathitrust, public access books
Last edited:

JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Feb 14, 2012
Central Pennsylvania
This ' house ' of ours has always been so iconic we tend to find it recognizable in images- but would we, if we could stroll by 200 years ago? Bet you could say the same thing, bringing someone forward into 2020.

ex 1823.jpg