Presidential History Blog

…Arguably the second oldest permanent possession of the White House…

The Return of the White House

George Washington’s portrait has been in the White House for more than 200 years.

Shortly after Dolley Madison “rescued” the Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington (the oldest possession)  in 1814, British soldiers torched the White House, as well as other buildings in Washington. The Madisons never lived there again. The house required extensive repair. Between the fire damage, the smoke damage, and the water damage (from the providential hurricane that extinguished the flames) the mansion was not fit to live in for nearly three years.

President James Monroe

In 1816, James Monroe was elected 5th President. He duly took the oath of office on March 4, 1817, but did not move into the president’s house till fall. By that time, the sandstone building, still bearing the scars of its trauma, was painted

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