The White House is one of the most recognisable buildings in the world. The neoclassical mansion was built between 1792 and 1800 and acts as both home to the president and the first family as well as being a treasured national museum. The mansion is filled with important paintings, historical furnishings and priceless artefacts relating to the nation’s rich history. Public tours of the first floor state rooms are often available where many of these works can be viewed.
The White House was one of the first structures to be built in Washington and the location for the residence was chosen in 1791 by the first president, George Washington. The second president, John Adams was actually the first to reside in the house and he moved in before its completion in 1800. During the War of 1812, the British burned the White House and the outer walls were all that remained. As the British forces advanced, first lady Dolly Madison was able to save the famous Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington. This immensely important work in American history still graces the White House East Room where it has hung for over 225 years.
The main house is often referred to as the residence. The West Wing, attached to the residence by a stately colonnade is the home of the executive branch of the national government and the oval office is located in this wing. There is an east wing also attached to the White House residence and this traditionally contains offices for the first lady and her staff.
The White House grounds are closed to the public but excellent views are afforded on the north front along Pennsylvania Avenue and from the south on the Ellipse, near the Washington Monument. To reach the White House via the Metro, take the blue or orange lines to Farragut West or McPherson Square stations which are both located near Lafayette Square and the north lawn. Metro Center on the red, blue and orange lines is just east of the White House.