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Government: Presidents

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The White House

Work on the White House began in 1792 on a site specifically chosen by George Washington. Its designer, an Irishman named James Hoban, won a design competition which awarded the architect a gold medal worth $500 for his efforts. The mansion's first occupants were John Adams and his family, who moved into the still incomplete residence in 1800. John Adams was father to John Quincy Adams and the grandfather to Henry Adams who lived across the Square from the White House in the last nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Thomas Jefferson began a series of improvements to the Executive Mansion in 1807 while President with the help of architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe. The building has endured a number of changes since then, including a near destructive burning by the British in 1814.

The White House is a Georgian masterpiece, loosely based on Dublin's Leinster House and James Gibb's Book of Architecture. Landscaping is based on the Olmstad brother 1936 design for the Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration. While the mansion is referred to as the White House because of its white paint, it was President Theodore Roosevelt who first used the name in an official capacity. Prior to that, the building was simply known as the Executive Mansion.

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