(WYTV) – Why is the White House white? Why can’t it be magenta or robin’s egg blue?
President George Washington chose the site for the building and it was completed in 1798, too late for him to live there.
The walls were sandstone and workers used a whitewash, a lime-based liquid that would prevent water from leaking into the porous limestone and freezing.
The first president to live there was the second president, John Adams in 1800. People stopped referring to it as “The President’s House” and adopted a nickname: White House.
It’s official name was the Executive Mansion.
In August 1814, British troops set fire to the White House and that led to the rumor that the White House was painted white to cover up fire damage, but the whitewashing after the fire was really just a continuation of a tradition to paint it that way.
In 1818, the maintenance staff finally switched to using white lead paint to keep the White House gleaming condition. The staff used 570 gallons.
So the White House is white because it always has been. But that was just the nickname. President Theodore Roosevelt made it the official name of the building in 1901.
Roosevelt also renovated the White House and relocated the president’s offices to what’s now known as the West Wing.