« Stuff You Missed in History Class

The White House and Its Legacy, Part 1

2020-08-24 | 🔗

Today’s White House has 132 rooms and 35 bathrooms. But that hasn’t always been the case. It also was not always called the White House, of course, and it has a LOT of history. 

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This episode of stuff, you miss the district glasses brought to you by home depot dot com, there's more to explore at home depot dot com from furniture to home too, or to betting shop online and save ten percent, with promo code history, class, ten plus get freedom, very ancillary items. Forty five dollars are more visit home depot dot com for more Welcome to stuff you missed in history, glass, a production of Iheart radio. Hello under the podcast on I'm Frey FRY and I'm Tracy bewildered So it was announced recently that the White House rose Garden is getting renovation I notice that announcement sparks discussion online, valuable about the sacredness of the White House and whether people should mess with it. Look. Here's the deal regard
of who is in the White House and what you think of their politics. I came at to this topic because I wanted to reassure everyone that, yes, of course, the white Does iconic? We all recognise it as the place where the president lives, but it has also always been in a state of constant change. Today's White House has a hundred and thirty two rooms and thirty five bathrooms. That was not always the case. It was also not always called the white Yes, and it has a lot of history, and while my initial thought was that it talking through the White House, is history and all of its various architectural changes and other things that happened to shift it would help people see that change is just part of this building. As I worked on this episode, which is now to episodes, it just became so clear that we really can't look at the White House. Is history without also
SK. I sing how it relates to slavery in the United States and how completely literally deep seated that has been in the country's founding people often speak about the White House with this great reverence, but we don't really engage with how deep entwined. It is with enslavement. So today is gonna, be the lighter part of it. We're gonna talk first about the general history of the White House.
And then on the next episode, we're going to talk at first about the White House Gardens and their brief history in a brief history of them, and then we are going to get into some of the not delightful but really important talk about the role of enslavement in what has come to be known as the people's house. So after the United States became a country in its own right and George Washington was elected president in one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine. There was a question of where the president should live in. That was an important question. Both New York City and Philadelphia hopes to be selected both of them designed and built residences that were intended to appeal to George Washington's taste was really no secret that where the president made his home would be a boon to the chosen city, I mean that's pretty obvious. Washington have been living in New York, which was the first: U Dot S capital
The actual federal seat of government would be permanently was still undecided when Washington was elected and the debate over the United States capitals location ended with the residents act in July of seventeen. Ninety three c: I a discuss before handling this is a whole thing on its own. That could be an episode because it is a lot of wheeling and dealing on the back end among three men in particular, yeah, if you, if you listen to Hamilton, if I hadn't speck glimpse of The whole room where it happened is all about that yeah
and the acts full name was an act for establishing the temporary and permanent seat of the government of the United States and that act provided for Philadelphia to be the temporary capital for ten years and then for a site on the Potomac, which would of course become Washington DC to become the permanent capital. So George Washington Move to Philadelphia in seventeen ninety one, he selected Thomas Johnson, David, Stuart and Daniel Carol as federal construction commissioners, Pierre Charles long fought, was selected by Washington to design a new city and the? U S, capital, building and the president's house. The press. The commissioners and my fault selected the site where the presidential residents would be built. That was to be on the Potomac, the french engineer and architect. No phone who had fought against the British during the revolutionary war on the side of the colonies started work in spring of seventeen. Ninety one,
low farm was brought on in part to ensure that the New United States of America would have a capital city in the grand european tradition, but built with a modern sensibility, but ten, and really arose when his vision exceeded. That of the government, when Thou fought dragged his feet on a map for the sale of the city, lots the city survey or made one malfunction, no credit this. On top of the existing tensions with him led to love on leaving the project he was encouraged to do so by Thomas Jefferson. Sometimes will see this characterized as lava quitting or getting fired depending on the source. The bottom line is this relationship had gotten so bad that both sides wanted it to end. Some elements of love on design do persists today and washing
these landscape, particularly the National Mall, which was initiated by alone fonts desire for there to be a huge public walk in the city yeah. There is ongoing discussion. If you do, I discovered if you go down architectural rabbit holes on line of lake, really how much do or do not Oda long phone in terms of how the capital is laid out, but levels exit, this project meant that they needed a new architects and the solution. To finding one was a contest. This contest, I read in different places, were being credited. As George Washington's idea, other said, it was Thomas Jefferson idea again completely different sources will tell you. What things, but we do know that Washington reviewed the finalists submissions in the end irish architects. James Tobin was chosen Jefferson by we submitted his own designs anonymously under the initials aisy. His design was not chosen. Obviously, that sounds like something he would do.
Who bear nor so many moments where I was researching this like, of course, that's what Thomas Jefferson, while the project for the president's mansion was based on the start, that long thought had made home indefinitely brought his irish background into the design. If you ve ever seen, winced or house in Dublin, which is the seat of Ireland's parliament, its obvious that the White House was inspired it has been staked out the president's home on July nineteen. Seventeen. Ninety two, although immediately problems, arose from the switch from one architect to another, low, false design, which had already had the sellers Doug for it was me, larger than hope, pins and, as a consequence, some shifting had to be made. So ultimately hope deferred to Washington on the matter, and he asked for the president to decide He wanted the north wall of the house, and then he altered the lay out to make that work president.
She gave approval to hope and to increase the footprint of the planned by twenty percent. In an effort to help deal, but this mismatch in design footprints, but that also meant that the planned the third floor had to be cut from the designed to meet budget restrictions required sandstone from acquiesce. Creek, which is forty miles from the build, cite the stone which is porous and cracks pretty easily. When temperatures drop was whitewashed to help protect it and that led to the nickname White House, although that would not become the official name for another century. At this point, it was just called the president's house, early drawings, had it labelled as the president's palace was one of the ways that the new government leaders wanted to kind of get away from their european roots. Yet there was a quick like no, no, no! No. This is not a monarchy doing palace there were set, other guiding principles to the President's house design, they were insisted upon by George Washington so why
it had to have ornamentation to it had to be built in such a way that it could later be expanded. So once again, that kind of reiterate that it was always intended to be a thing that could change and three it had to be built quote upon scale, far superior to anything in this country. Less was a tall order and to fill it, the areas around the construction site were turned into construction central. Basically, the area was filled with a sawmill brick yards storage, buildings, killed facilities and living spaces for the workers and the Cook house to feed them. This was really a makeshift city of work, but it came with some less than savory behavior. A lot of gambling and drunkenness happened in the off hours. There was a house of quote riotous and disorderly conduct. Establishment was run by a carpenter's wife named Betsy Donahue, and she was fine over it, but her business was not shut down outright. It was just me.
To a privately owned tract of land who basically were like. We can't have carouse and there's definitely the summation that there was brothel type activity going on there. We can have this on click land, but if you just move this to this private lot, will let you, incidentally, There is an interesting piece of trivia here in that the cornerstone of the mansion, which was laid on October. Thirteen. Seventeen ninety two has been lost to town. During renovations that took place in the mid twentieth century people went for it, and no one could find it. An x, Ray Imaging system was even brought to the site for the mentions two hundredth anniversary in search of this missing cornerstone, but it was not located. It is considered gone at this point, well fact about the earliest occupants of the presidential mansion and how the building changed over the years. But first we will pause for a sponsor rake
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is great for that visit, audible, dot com, slash history, stuff or text history, stuff to five hundred five hundred. It's at eight years to get the president's house to a point where it could be lived in This was due to some changes in design that we're necessitated along the way, but also because it was really difficult to get enough labour for this massive project. We're gonna talk about that some more. In the second episode,
in eighteen hundred, these still unfinished presidential palace was occupied for the first time and President John Adams and First Lady Abigail Adams moved in what happened the November of that year, John got there first and wrote to his wife quote. I pray Heaven bestow the best of blessings on this house and all that shall hereafter and habit. It may none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof. That's a quote that was later engraved on the state dining room, fireplace at the request of Franklin Delano, Roosevelt Abigail for her part, found the place quite challenging when she arrived. She wrote to her daughter that none of the apartments were finished and ass, she was forced to hang laundry in the unfinished great room. She also wrote quote: the lighting of the apartments from the kitchen to parlours and chambers is attacks indeed, and the fires we are
like to keep the security from daily egg. Use is another very cheering comfort to assist us in this great castle and render less attendance necessary. Bills are wholly wanting, not single one being hung throughout the whole house and promises are all you can obtain. This is so great inconvenience that I know not what to do or how to do, and I just I keep thinking about the first lady- do White House Laundry and hang you get up in the greatly being like, I don't know I would ask for help, but I can't find a bill to call them, so she also included this rather charming statement in this letter quote. You must keep all this to yourself and when asked how I like it say that I write you, the situation is beautiful, which is true. Don't anybody. I complain about this. Okay, George Washington head of course died the year before on December, 14th of one thousand seven hundred and ninety nine, so he did not live to see his project come
and even the atoms is only spent four months in the new home before Thomas Jefferson's election in one thousand eight hundred and one those four months were not especially luxurious that mean beyond hanging of the laundry and the great room. It was the first winter for this new residents and some of the stuff they made it just had not been worked out like ensuring that there was a ready source of firewood and as was mentioned and Abigails letter. Not all the rooms were complete, so the first family had a reception room, a dining room, a breakfast room bed rooms for the president's family in an office. That sounds like plenty, but it's really not that much for an entire state of government. They also endured just constant
during all their time. There, yes bashfully, when you consider this is a live, may be. The first live workspace ass. They were supposed to be conducting government business out of it as well as living. There Jefferson moved into the president's house in March of eighteen o one, and it was of course, still not completed. You won't be surprised to find that he had lots of ideas and he made an immediate update to the building in the form of adding water closets which were fed from attic cisterns that collected rainwater price to his insistence on this addition. The structure had been designed to have outdoor restrooms common for the time that new pavilions were also added to the grounds during the Jefferson presidency, as were the east and West colonnades, and they remain part of the design to this day. Those projects and others during Jefferson's time in the president's house were overseas.
Architect, Benjamin Henry Latro Latro also had the roof of the mansion redone in sheet iron. Prior to that region, you, it least terribly because Original heavy sleep it was used on the roof was wreaking havoc. Supporting walls is creating these gaps that caused leak problems. They also added a grandson case and landscape the grounds that was part of why Jefferson wanted those outhouses to be done away with. He wanted the grounds to be beautiful. The staircase had been part of the plan from the beginning, but when Jefferson took office, only a temporary set of stairs was in place with neither of the planned Grand staircases built, but Rob didn't have a free hand in this work. Jefferson had really clear ideas about how he wanted everything done, and their relationship is the little reminiscent of Andrea, Notre and Louis. The fourteenth of France.
Thomas Jefferson had to have input on everything. The troop once wrote of his boss quote. I am sorry that I am Crampton this designed by his prejudices in favour of the old french books out of which he fishes every thing also sounds very like Thomas Jefferson, yeah and I wanna dimension linotype and weary the fourteenth, because it seems the era of the lilies in France was very much one. That's influence Thomas Jefferson thinking threw out in terms of design and how things should be done weren't drawings made by Latro for colonnade porches to be added to the executive mansion. Those never go moved into an active project status when James Matter, and was elected, Latro stayed on, but he shifted his focus from architecture to more interior decoration. He had not been a fan of Jefferson's prickly.
To do everything in the french style, emulating Versailles and he switch things over large Philly to English Regency in greek revival, decor in one thousand, eight hundred and fourteen during the war of one thousand eight hundred and twelve under President James Madison's presidency, the President's house was set on fire by british troops and they also burned a lot of acid, big city, the presidential mansion was essentially left with only its exterior walls. When a storm finally put out the blaze first, Lady Dolly Madison, would only concerned rather famously to leave the residents once she was certain that the portrait of George Washington painted by Gilbert Stuart had been safely removed. She,
not cut it from the frame and roll it under her arm. In a moment of desperation, as is often told, it was in fact removed from its frame and the stretch canvas that it remained on was taken by carried to a safe location and Georgetown. A home called Octagon House became home to James and Dolly Madison after the fire. That was a temporary residence and work was begun to restore the permanent home of the president. Although it took several months for Congress to approve the funding. The project, while Benjamin Henrietta troop, had a lad of ideas about how to rebuild Madison instead opted to once again TAT James hoping to supervise the project with the intent to restore it to its original form the new structure was ready for occupancy by President James Monroe in eighteen. Seventeen Monroe had conferred with her and after he was elected, any change. Some of the plans that Madison had established for the rebuild hope and also made some changes of his,
own based on learning that he had made during that first build, and at this point, while still nicknamed the White House, it was officially referenced as the executive mansion in accordance with James Monroe's wishes in eighteen. Twenty four, the South portico was added. That's the one! That's curves, the Squared off North portico, followed five years later during Andrew Jackson. Presidency also during Jackson's term the negative mansion. Gotta huge update, central heating and running water were added to the homes of entities. The east room was finally completed as well there were a few different efforts to create a central heating plan. And I found a few that suggested that the first successful one was during Jackson's time, although successful should may be an air quotes when
Glenn Pierce was in office from eighteen, fifty three to eighteen, fifty seven, he had the orangery built by Andrew Jackson, transformed into a greenhouse that was inspired by Paxton Crystal Palace that greenhouse did not last when his term was up. It was demolish to make way for a Treasury building expansion when Andrew Johnson became seventeenth. President, after Lincoln's assassination, a series of changes began at the residents. Most of these were day core changes that were initiated by Johnson's daughter, but the larger scale change was the construction of two conservatories. That created some for a ray array of plant life. We are going to start to talk in this next bit about how the wear and tear and all of those renovation started to create some problems for the executive mansion. We'll get into all that after we first have a word from the sponsors that keep stuff he missed in history, glass, going
throughout the late nineteenth century, the house was showing its age and the result of all those renovations, and it got to the point where large receptions or events with numerous guess necessitated supporting the floors in the state rooms to prevent those floors from buckling under wait. This lead to proposals for all manner of additions and renovation, as well as the possibility of an entirely new residents being built at a different location, but ultimately the idea of moving the presidential residents to another home was dismissed as the iconic importance of the executive. Mansion was considered too great at this point, so instead they opted for ongoing repairs. President Ulysses, S Grant and First Lady Julia Grant, opted to review the executive mansion and victorian style. I was part of a major renovation funded by congressional appropriation of a hand,
thousand dollars. This renovation also prepared the mansion to host their daughter, Nellie grants wedding. The grants also had the grand staircase replaced with a landing added, yeah. I read in one place, but couldn't find primary sources to back it up that some people in the press made fun of Ulysses S grant for having this very really house, but I Now again, if that is a valid thing, I just wanted to introduce it, because I thought it was sort of charming both the Benjamin Harrison and Grover Cleveland presidencies. There were proposals to expand the house that went before Congress. The Harrison plan fell apart when the first lady died. She had kind of minutes champion. So when she was gone, there was no one else to really keep knowing the proposal that was developed into the Cleveland did not gain support among legislators. Version would have expanded the house out with to tee shaped wings on either side of the mansion, creating a much wider structures.
There are too many you may see throughout Europe and idea of renovation, though, was put on indefinite hold when the spanish American WAR began in eighteen. Ninety eight and ninety nine to the press. Central home, underwent a large scale renovation under the direction of President Theodore, Roosevelt and First Lady Edith. Roosevelt result also made its name officially the White House, since everybody had been calling at that for years at that point The way the administration brought in the architectural firm of makin, Mead and white from New York to create a modern eyes very stylish new design for the White House. Idea of Charles MC him, who worked closely with the Roosevelt's, was that they should restore the concepts of Hobart.
The troll, but also modernize the structure to reflect all of the technology that has developed in the century. Since the first occupants had settled into the White House, nothing pleaded shifting the office of the president to the temporary executive office. Building that structure today as the West Wing, the Hat was to create some separation between the family living areas and the work areas in the house. Previous podcast subject: Alice Roosevelt and her intrusive and impulsive behavior. I have been a factor in that decision before this move. The offices and the family bedrooms CALL Sarah the second floor. The renovation was budgeted by Congress at a whopping one slash two million dollars again in one thousand. Nine hundred and two the conservatories were demolished, a porch been built on, the east side of the home was similarly removed. The west terrorist became living quarters for staff and the garden and also included a laundry facility the into
here was decorated in the bows our style, echoing classic greek design ideology, as well as having touches obliquely the sixteenth design in some rooms. Just to keep things interesting the big engineering swing that took place during this renovation was the removal of a load bearing wall in the state dining room to expand it. That wall was replaced with a steel trusts to accommodate the weight, and that became problematic down the road yeah. Keep that in mind William Howard Taft, who followed Teddy Roosevelt as president, had the oval office built in the executive building which echoes the blue room. That's the oval diplomatic reception room with the main house. It's been called a number of things over the years during the presidency of Calvin Coolidge, the building's roof was repaired. It was the same roof from one thousand eight hundred and sixteen reconstruction, and it was
rough shape at this point, but Coolidge also added a third floor in the process of the White House, can more easily accommodate guests and also have some additional storage. But this conversion of the attic space to make a third level was supported with steel, girders and the combination of those sturdy, but heavy girders. With that trust structure that had been installed during the Roosevelt administration costs the White House to become structurally unsound. While President Franklin, Delano, Roosevelt, was in office, world war, two necessitated the creation of a bomb shelter. This was built under what became east wing that is now primarily used for the needs of the office of the first lady. After
also had a museum commissioned the iconic residents to document and share the White House of history, but that museum plan fell to the wayside due to financial concerns. During President Airy S Truman's time in office, the entire Whitehouse underwent significant renovation due to their structural problems that we mentioned a moment ago. Those issues were discovered after the addition of a site four balcony to the south portico. Once those problems had been identified, the White House was essentially gutted because it was believed that it was going to collapse without intervention all of those years of additions and changes in the introduction of electric wiring and pipes into a building that was not designed for them had taken their toll and there have been three primary ideas regarding how to handle this issue of a crumbling mansion, one was to restore the existing house who was to raise the house and rebuild it in marble or three that old chestnut building
early new presidential, home somewhere else of capital, since it was decided that the White House should be restored during construction, the first family moved across the street to Blair House six million dollars had been allocated for this project and it was really a full rebuild from the foundation up down. Walls remained, but everything else was removed. Although much of it was carefully placed in storage to be reincorporate it into the fortified new White House? Ultimately, little of it was used again Yet there is an architecture book that I had bought to do research for this and, like it so bizarre, a seed. The White House taken down to the study like their mixtures of it, just looking like a bombed out construction site, it's really sort of strange and over the course of four years, construction. The building got a new to floored sub basement that was pin to a concrete foundation. The wooden Joyce that had been there
more than a century were replaced with concrete and steal beams to ensure greater structural integrity rooms that had been pardoned house before that we build will recreated, but they had updates made to them to reflect modern sensibilities, lake bathrooms attached to bedrooms and fans and turbines added into the roof, but all of this was done. I salute the exterior view of the White House would remain basically the same. Unfortunately, very A few of the mansion historically significant artifacts were retained or preserved, while saving the house itself during the Kennedy administration. First lady Jackie Kennedy, redecorated, Vision for the mansion was one that sought to incorporate what had come before her redecorate.
Was really more of a research restoration. Mrs Kennedy sought out experts and antiques and assembled them into a committee that would advise on this whole process is Jackie. Kennedy's efforts became public knowledge. Antique pieces were donated from private owners to become part of the White House restoration in September of nineteen. Sixty one Congress passed an act concerning the White House and providing for the care and preservation of its historic and artistic contents. This established the White House, our collection and finally declared the White House, a museum, the first lady hired the first White House curator tasked with creating a comprehensive catalogue of the homes. Contents, in managing the collections with an eye toward preservation as well as collection as you. Recall from our embrace episode from back and twenty sixteen price. What
one of the art experts who helped assemble, that first official art collection, but perhaps the most significant White House legacy from the Kennedy administration was the first ladies establishment of the White House, Historical Association, the White House, Historical Association is a private nonprofit organisation and its stated mission is quote to protect, preserve and provide public access to the rich history of America's executive mansion use a lot of their available research as they worked on this in nineteen. Sixty two ABC aired. What is now a pretty famous piece about Jackie Kennedys work in the White House, including a tour of the highlights of the newly redone home and the first lady, book about her ideology for the whole process. Saying quote this house will always grow and should it
seem to me such a shame when we came here to find hardly any thing of the past in the house. Hardly anything before nineteen to the administration of President Jimmy Carter, move the White House into the future and to significant ways. One the mansions first computer system was installed and to solar panels were installed to heat the facilities water. Those panels were short lived initially, they were taken down during the Reagan presidency. Although the George W Bush administration put them back so that is where we are going to conclude for today and, in our second part, coming up next time around we're gonna talk about the gardens and then, as I mentioned, we're going to talk about how All of these things you ve talked about really hinged on the work of enslaved labour. So in the meantime I am going to read. A delay for email as a balancing act. So it's not all all serious
I do hope that I am hearing all of this in particularly lake that the White House has burned out completely been taken under the studs, its DORA. People realise that it is not a static sacred cow, so to speak, something Selina shifts and changes just how house always meant to be from the beginning. But the email I want to read is about something completely different, which is an older episode, the Limerick Soviet area. It is from our listener Serena. I hope that is how she pronounces it, and it makes me think of I dream of Genie, Serena Rights. I am a recent listener and since finding your podcast I've been listening every day. I really am by the way you present information in a way where I can listen actively, and I often find myself talking about the wonderful slash, terrible things. I've learned from you I from LOS Angeles, about three and a half years go I moved to Ireland on my own. Since then I have entered a relationship and have also had the pleasure of getting to know my partners family.
My partner in his father are both history buffs and have been debating and educating each other for years. I recently spent last Sunday morning in our hammock. Listening to your episode about the Limerick Soviet Intranet, fascinating, I am always interested in obscure irish history, but when I brought it up to my partner, he had almost zero knowledge about it. I brought it up the next day during a high, with his father- and he knew a small bit about it and told me he has many friends in slash from Limerick and they fiercely deny this story ever happened. I proceeded to send him the link to the episode in the next morning. He text We the thank me for sending it to him, and then he enjoyed it immensely. The best part being is absolutely delighted to have sent the episode to his doubter friends, I'm still waiting about their responses, but I wanted to thank you for your wonderful podcast until you, this little story about your podcast, enlightening this American, her irish partner,
now a group of seventy plus irish laths. I hope your keeping well- and I thought you might enjoy these photos of our elder Pepin socks and read the twelve robust interiors they move to Ireland to point. Five ago, adorable by the way you're using. I would not have known about the women soviet. Had a wonderful young woman named Maria tell me about it when I was in a bar in limerick right, as you may recall, and so it was one of the things that I immediately one until it can t I hope I have not ruffled any feathers in your dear you're partners, dad's social circle fingers crossed. If you would like the right you as you could do so at history, podcast I heard radio dot com. You can also find us on social media as missed in history. If you like the subscribers, We would like you to do that as well. You can do that on the eye, her radio ab apple podcast or wherever it is you listen
stop. You missed in history class. The production of I radio for more part for my heart, You visit by her radio have added mankind's or wherever you listen to your favorite shows. How did the world's greatest entrepreneurs find their way to such prominent positions of success? I'm Jeff frozen and in order the hustle, my podcast from my heart, radio I down to chat with the cultural innovators in magnates shaping our future from the The founder of the black lives matter, movement to the former ceo of Twitter, join us each, week as we discuss the insights and critical advice and shaped all their lives. Listen to the art of the hustle on Iheart radio, app apple pie cas wherever you get your pockets
Transcript generated on 2020-08-24.