Open post: Secret staircase

In the previous post comments, visitor Chris wrote:

Hey, on an unrelated note, I have recently come into some information regarding a hidden staircase passage on the first floor.

Would you guys like to know where it is? I wasnt sure if that kind of thing is allowed here.

Yes! Assuming it is used by regular staff and not strictly by the Secret Service or something, I’m definitely interested. I’m aware of a basement mezzanine, eastward tunnel under the East Wing, and (I’ve suspected, at least) another small hidden staircase on the West side, but I don’t have enough information about these to document them.

23 thoughts on “Open post: Secret staircase

  1. The only hidden staircase is the one just outside the Queen’s Room on the second floor tht leads up to the third floor and let’s you out right in front of the East Solarium. There is a little doorway with no frame or door knob and hidden hinges that opens with a touch spring just to the left of the door to the Queen’s Room in the East Hall.

    Then of course the two little stairways on the east end of the Ground Floor Corridor that lead to rest rooms. And the winding stairs that connect the pantries and kitchens on all floors, next to the staff elevator.

    If there is any other one on the first floor, where would it fit?

  2. I knew it! Not a stairway to the stars but to the Roswell crypt, up there between the East Room ceiling and the East Sitting Hall floor. The whole east end of the second floor of the White House is actually on a somewhat higher level, but thanks to trompe l’oeil . . . This also explains the queen’s stay at Blair House. Trompe is too hard to sleep on.

  3. Im going by someone’s account here so im not totally 100% sure if it is correct, but iv seen an emptey place in the floorplan where it would fit.

    One of my professors used to date a secret service officer back in the early 70s. Apparently he gave her a private tour after hours (I guess it was easier to do that kind of thing back then), and he showed her this. She found out that I was interested in the white house so she told me about it.

    If she is correct, she sais that about 8 steps up the first half of the main stairs, a section of wall slides open (apparently with cracks so narrow that you couldnt even tell tehy were there when it is closed, without close inspection) to reveal a very narrow set of stairs. About 2 feet in width. One going up, another going down. This would place it roughly behind the fireplace in the queens room. There is a space there where it would fit.

    Apparently the stairs lead down to the staircase behind the hallway (on the north)on the ground floor.

  4. We’ve known about the stairwell next to the Queens Bedroom for eons now. I doubt the hidden east stairs is what Chris is referring to.

  5. Im guessing it is a staircase to quickly get the president to the escape tunnel in an emergancy.

  6. I would think that in an emergency the president could just take the spiral stairs down from the 2nd floor kitchen. Or even the stairs by the elevator.

  7. A number of rooms have considerable space between them. A picture of the doorway between the Family Living Room and the President’s Bedroom reveals a space of at least 4 feet in width. This might also be true for any adjoining rooms that have fireplaces on the adjoining walls. Lots of places for hidden stairways. And then there are what would be corners if the oval rooms were not oval.
    Top secret intel information gets to the papers, but not a whisper about The House.

  8. Two stairways right next to each other achieving the same purpose and going to the same area. I don’t understand why they would bother.

  9. Two stairways right next to each other achieving the same purpose and going to the same area. I don’t understand why they would bother.

  10. Becuase it would take more time for the president to take the main stairs from the third floor down to the basement.

    He would have to first take the stirs from the thrid floor down to the second floor, walk to the main staircase, go down to the first floor, walk around to the back where trhe staircase to the ground floor is, walk down the hall and around the back hall to the stairs to the basement.

    This way they can get him right there.

    Hey, I didnt design the thing, I just know that according to my source, it is there.

  11. Well, I can see it from the QBR, but looking at the floorplan of the ground floor there’s no room for a stairway there behind the fierplace in the library.

  12. In Rosalynn Carter’s First Lady From Plains she writes about their first day in the White House: “…we had read about the secret stairway that connects the presidential living quarters on the second floor tot he third floor, and the children quickly found it, pushing a portion of the wall that opens to reveal the stairway.” She doesn’t exactly say where it is located, just that there is one.

  13. In Rosalynn Carter’s First Lady From Plains she writes about their first day in the White House: “…we had read about the secret stairway that connects the presidential living quarters on the second floor tot he third floor, and the children quickly found it, pushing a portion of the wall that opens to reveal the stairway.” She doesn’t exactly say where it is located, just that there is one.

  14. We already know about the “secret stair” that goes from the East Sitting Hall up to the third floor – perhaps this “other” secret stair” is the Undisclosed Location we’ve heard tell about? 🙂

  15. ya, this certainly sint the same secret stair that goes to the thrid floor. everyone knows about that one.

  16. I wouldn’t be so sure. Please remember that the Carter family was new to the White House, had probably known very little about it, and certainly were not the White House enthusiasts who blog on this site. I think it quite possible that she, in fact, was referring to the East Sitting Hall stairway to the third floor. Remember she wrote, “We had read about the secret stairway…” Where would she have read about a secret stairway that we have not?

  17. I personally don’t believe it, if for no other reason than there’s not enough room on the ground floor plan.

  18. Il bring a few diagrams and pictures of the area to my professer and ask her to clarify exactly where it is.

    Perhaps she was mistaken.

    But I was just going from her word.

  19. From the description that Chris gives of his professor’s recounting, it sounds EXACTLY like the stairway outside the Queen’s Room, though that one only goes up and not down. That stairway is located about 8 steps from the Grand Staircase and is very narrow and up that little ramp, which might seem like a landing. It also is just a panel of wall and I’ve seen it and it is pretty well-concealed.

    Also the fact that this was the early 70’s could account for teacher’s memory being a little cloudy…that was a long time ago.

    Someone raises the point about how the Carter’s would have “read” about the secret staircase. Two possibilities. 1) I recall as a kid and first getting interested in the House, reading JB West’s book (1974). In it, he quotes a memo from Jackie where she is telling him that she doesn’t want servant’s going through the private quarters. At one point she says they can use the “staircase by Queen’s Room.” Since Mr. West’s book only had a simple diagram of the second floor that did not show the stairs and I had not yet acquired a complete set of blueprints for the entire house, this sparked my curiosity. However, it was the first time I heard of this staircase.

    2)Also, each First Family-elect is provided with a huge binder of photographs and details on family life in the White House shortly after the election. These briefing books–which I’d love to get my hands on–would certainly contain a detail like the staircase by the Queen’s Room.

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