Pierre Charles L'Enfant, President George Washington, President Harry S. Truman, President James Monroe, President Theodore Roosevelt Junior, The District of Columbia, Washington D.C.

The Plans For The Presidential Palace And The Construction Of The White House

In 1791, Pierre Charles L’Enfant met with President George Washington to show his sketch of the “President’s Palace”, which was five times the size of the present day White House, within the original site of President’s Park.

The plans for a grand “Presidential Palace” were scrapped after President Washington fired L’Enfant for insubordination. In 1792, an architectural competition was held for the Capital and the Presidential Home buildings. From that competition, James Hoban’s design of a smaller and more modest Presidential House was chosen.

James Hoban’s original design for the White House.

Construction of the smaller presidential house began in 1792 and ended in 1800.

Portrait of President James Monroe

On August 24, 1814, British soldiers invaded Washington, D.C. and torched President’s House. Only the walls of the structure remained after the fire. It was debated whether or not the capital should be moved to another city, after the events of the War of 1812.

With the urging of President James Monroe, the U.S. Capital stayed at its current location and Congress authorized the reconstruction of the Presidential Home. James Hoban was commissioned to rebuild the President’s Home to the way it originally was, while keeping the scorched walls within the building.

Engraving of the White House by William Strickland, after a watercolor by George Munger, 1814. (Library of Congress)

In 1817, President Monroe moved back into the rebuilt President’s Home. In 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt renamed the President’s Home to the “White House”. In the 1940s, under Harry Truman’s administration the White House was under reconstruction.