1902 floor plans

Patrick sent me some really fantastic images of White House floor plans from the 1902 Report of the Architects created by McKim, Mead, and White. They nicely fill in some holes and are so detailed that the original versions (click the hi-def links in the caption credits) could be used to build your very own vintage White House mansion, complete with giant steam boiler. Decorate to taste.

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8 thoughts on “1902 floor plans

  1. Wow! Thanx, Patrick. This in many ways is the distillation in graphic form of Seale’s “The President’s House,” the Vol. 2 of which I await from a neighboring library system. We see at a glance how little of the original walls remain today.

    Now, fireplaces no longer being needed for anything but atmosphere, when will we take back the east windows of the East Room? And maybe reposition the fireplace in the State Dining Room and take back another window?

  2. Speaking of taking thing back, how about returning the North Entrance Hall to Hoban’s original version of single ionic columns where now we have pairs of Doric??

  3. Not floor plans but a question: In the Truman renovation the existing exterior walls were underpinned to further strengthen and stabilize them. How did they do that without endangering the parts of the wall they were trying to reinforce at any given time?

  4. In order to underpin the foundations during the Truman rebuild the interior was demolished first, with the steel frame erected on its new footings simultaneously. Then the new footings were excavated in small sections and at staggered intervals to keep the walls from settling unevenly during construction.

  5. Thanks, Derek, for the link. Don’t know why I couldn’t find this treasure when I visited the Truman site a couple days ago.

    Br. Chris, thanks for answering my question–which gives rise to more, of course! Did the excavation pits go all the way to the level of the floor for the lowest basement, thus the joined columns of underpinnings forming the basement wall for the WH?

    And another: excavating beneath even a relatively short section of the original wall means that the stones atop that excavation could collapse, no? Or was the mortar joining those stones to the other parts of the wall sufficient to prevent them from sagging or falling?

    And one more, perhaps final: Since the underpinning was done in the form of columns, how would freshly poured concrete next to an already dried column adhere properly to it so as to keep a watertight basement? It seems there would be many vertical cracks in that basement wall to allow seepage. Don’t tell me duct tape!

  6. Duct tape is the answer to all of life’s little difficulties Duane.

    Actually I don’t know the answer to that particular question about the damp basement. I suspect there are vapor barriers and extensive drainage channels to preven a damp basement, which is what would be done today, but I don’t know this for a fact.

    The excavation pits went below the level of the lowest sub-basement by quite a few feet. Somewhere I have a diagram showing this. I’ll track it down and post it on the White House Fanatics page and also send Derek a copy.

    The excavation pits were done in very small sections — not much more than two or three feet at a time. I’m sure the openings were shored up while the work was going on, but with each pit section so small there wouldn’t have been much danger of collapse of the exterior stone walls. Mortar has almost no tensile strength so it had no role in holding the masonry walls together during the excavations. With finally cut ashlar like that used in the White House, the main purpose of mortar is to keep water out of the walls, not to adhere the stones together. However, the soft brick lining the interior was one of the principal reasons the house had to be rebuilt since it was crumbling. In the rebuilt house it plays no structural role at all.

    The interior steel frame is almost completely independent of the exterior walls. Basically the steel frame supports the Coolidge third floor and roof, which was retained structurally in the rebuild, and the interiors. The exterior walls only bear their own weight plus window sash, doors, etc. I’ve been told that the interior and exterior of the house can get pretty far out of alignment with weather changes — sometimes by more than an inch or two.

  7. Does anyone know where I can see the floor plans for Benjamin Harrison’s and Grover Cleveland’s proposals to enlarge the White House? Both proposals were done by architect Fred D. Owen, I believe. I’ve seen the proposed Harrison elevation many times and the CLeveland proposal is in the official White House guidebook. Neither shows the interior floor plans, however.

    Thanks so much; I’d really appreciate it if someone could point me in the right direction!

    Love the website! Absolutely fascinating!

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