clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What the White House Looked Like During a Gut-Renovation

New, 1 comment

By the time Harry Truman moved into the White House in 1945, the home of the American first family wasn't in great shape. Its early days were marred by disaster—the British attempted to burn it to the ground in 1814—and in the first half of the 20th century, the structure had been encumbered with newfangled machinery and infrastructure—things like indoor plumbing and heating ducts—that were basically tacked on to its 145-year-old frame. According to the weekly political magazine National Journal, "Experts called the third floor of the White House 'an outstanding example of a firetrap.' The result of a federally commissioned report found the mansion's plumbing 'makeshift and unsanitary,' while 'the structural deterioration [was] threatening complete collapse.'" By 1948, The New York Times reported that "the marble grand staircase [was] in imminent danger, and the building was to be closed "indefinitely for repairs." While Truman insisted that the primary shell of the building remain intact, the entire manse—what is now some 55,000 square feet split across 132 rooms—was torn up and emptied. And while the interiors have long been restored, thankfully for history buffs, photos of the gut-reno live on. Above: the lower corridor of the White House looking into the second-floor East Room.

? The second-floor Oval Study above the Blue Room.

? The Lincoln Room and the Rose Room.

? Truman didn't want to make a hole in the building's facade big enough for a bulldozer, so the machinery was all taken apart outside and put back together within the White House's walls.

· What the White House Looks Like Completely Gutted [National Journal]