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The Most Famous Address in Washington: Perspectives on White House History

In collaboration with the White House Historical Association

Session 1 of 4-Session Evening Course

Thursday, February 15, 2018 - 6:45 p.m.
Code: 1B0237

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The President’s House was a major feature of Pierre Charles L'Enfant's 1791 plan for the city of Washington. He envisioned a vast palace for the nation’s leader, a building five times the size of the residence that would eventually be planned and constructed under the watchful eye of President George Washington. Since then, the White House has been burned, reconstructed, renovated, designed, and redesigned, and it remains the home of the presidents of the United States.

In this series, four noted specialists explore aspects of every corner of the famous building at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, where every decision, no matter how seemingly insignificant, has political ramifications. Participants at each program receive a copy of the speaker’s corresponding large-format, illustrated book published by the White House Historical Association.



Architectural styles reflect a specific time period and its ideologies. Perhaps aware of this, numerous presidents have altered—either extensively or minutely—the architecture of the White House in order to contribute their own personal touches. How have these revisions shaped public perceptions of the presidential house? More broadly, what kind of themes and messages does the timeless architecture of the White House convey to Americans? William Seale, author of A White House of Stone: Building America’s First Ideal in Architecture, explores the answers.

If you are interested in other sessions or viewing the full course, click here.


S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)