White House cornerstone laid 1792
The cornerstone is laid for a presidential residence in the newly designated capital city of Washington. In 1800, President John Adams became the first president to reside in the executive mansion, which soon became known as the “White House” because its white-gray Virginia freestone contrasted strikingly with the red brick of nearby buildings.
The city of Washington was created to replace Philadelphia as the nation’s capital because of its geographical position in the center of the existing new republic. The states of Maryland and Virginia ceded land around the Potomac River to form the District of Columbia, and work began on Washington in 1791. French architect Charles L’Enfant designed the area’s radical layout, full of dozens of circles, crisscross avenues, and plentiful parks. In 1792, work began on the neoclassical White House building at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue under the guidance of Irish American architect James Hoban, whose design was influenced by Leinster House in Dublin and by a building sketch in James Gibbs’ Book of Architecture. President George Washington chose the site.
On November 1, President John Adams was welcomed into the executive mansion. His wife, Abigail, wrote about their new home: “I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house, and on all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but wise men ever rule under this roof!”
In 1814, during the War of 1812, the White House was set on fire along with the U.S. Capitol by British soldiers in retaliation for the burning of government buildings in Canada by U.S. troops. The burned-out building was subsequently rebuilt and enlarged under the direction of James Hoban, who added east and west terraces to the main building, along with a semicircular south portico and a colonnaded north portico. The smoke-stained stone walls were painted white. Work was completed on the White House in the 1820s.
Major restoration occurred during the administration of President Harry Truman, and Truman lived across the street for several years in Blair House. Since 1995, Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and Lafayette Square has been closed to vehicular traffic for security reasons. Today, more than a million tourists visit the White House annually. It is the oldest federal building in the nation’s capital.
(More Events on This Day in History)
Chilean miners are rescued after 69 days underground
On this day in 2010, the last of 33 miners trapped nearly half a mile underground for more than two months at a caved-in mine in northern Chile, are rescued. The miners survived longer than anyone else trapped underground in recorded history.The miners’ ordeal began on August 5, ...
Palestinians hijack German airliner
Four Palestinians hijack a Lufthansa airliner and demand the release of 11 imprisoned members of Germany’s Baader-Meinhof terrorist group, also known as the Red Army Faction. The Red Army Faction was a group of ultra-left revolutionaries who terrorized Germany for three decades, ...
Singer Charlie Rich protests John Denver’s big win at the CMA Awards
In a 35-year career that ran from the rockabilly genius of "Lonely Weekends" (1960) to the Countrypolitan splendor of "Behind Closed Doors" (1973), the versatile and soulful Charlie Rich earned eleven #1 hits on the Country charts and one crossover smash with the #1 pop hit "The ...
Sir Isaac Brock saves Canada
During the War of 1812, British and Indian forces under Sir Isaac Brock defeat Americans under General Stephen Van Rensselaer at the Battle of Queenstown Heights, on the Niagara frontier in Ontario, Canada. The British victory, in which more than 1,000 U.S. troops were killed, ...
Continental Navy established
The Continental Congress authorizes construction and administration of the first American naval force—the precursor of the United States Navy.Since the outbreak of open hostilities with the British in April, little consideration had been given to protection by sea until Congress ...
B’nai B’rith founded
B’nai B’rith, the oldest Jewish service organization in the world, is founded in New York City by Henry Jones and 11 others. B’nai B’rith, meaning “Sons of the Covenant,” organized its first lodge in November, and Isaac Dittenhoefer was elected the first president. The fraternal ...