Cost of the White House.
Since the first construction of the White House the whole cost of the building to the present date amounts to $2,232,000. To start with the State of Virginia contributed $120,000 and the State of Maryland $72,000 to build it. A prize of $500 had been offered for the finest design and this was awarded to a young Charleston Irishman named James Hoban, who followed closely the Duke of Leinster’s palace at Dublin. The plan contemplated a three-story building, but Congress refused to appropriate the money for anything so extravagant and the district commissioners cut down the design to two stories and a basement, with a length of 170 feet and a depth of sixtyeight feet.
Washington finally induced Congress to add to the sums contributed by Maryland and Virginia enough to finish the w’ork of construction. The corner stone was laid in the presence of President’ Washington October 13, 1792, and President John Adams took his family into it in November, 1S00, though Mrs. Adams complained of the discomforts to which she was subjected in its unfinished condition. Congress had appropriated $15,000 to furnish the building, but its expenditure was strung along for four years.
At the beginning of the first administration of Jefferson and each of the administrations of Madison $14,000 was appropriated, but in 1814, at the taking of Washington, the mansion was burned by the British soldiers. A heavy rain saved it from entire destruction. The red sandstone was painted white to remove the traces of the fire, and the building has since been known as the White House in consequence.
In Jackson’s first term the front Ionic portico was added at a cost of $19,000, and when Harrison came in the foreign mahogany furniture was replaced with American at a cost of $6000. During Lincoln’s first term $29,000 was laid out in repairs. In 1865 the house was thoroughly overhauled and refurnished at an expense of $76,000, and two years later $59,000 was spent for similar purposes. In Grant’s first term $135,000, and in his second $110,000 was spent; in Hayes, $90,000, and during the Garfield-Arthur administration, $110,000. In the last mentioned sum is included the cost of refitting the mansion with modern conveniences and substituting a jeweled glass screen in the vestibule for a former wooden partition. During Cleveland’s term there was an expenditure of $74 000, and during Harrison’s one of $96.000—the average annual outlay of recent years having been $25,000.
The President’s family has at its disposal five bedrooms, a dining room, a sitting room and the red room for a parlor, the east room, the green room, the blue room and the State dining room being reserved by tradition for public purposes. Mrs. Harrison urged that the wings should be added to the building for the comfort of her successors. It has also been proposed that another building should be erected near at hand for the President’s family, and that the White House should be given up to official use.