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The White House & the Irish Connection

Joe Biden's Irish connections are well documented, but what about the Irish connection to the White House itself?

James Hoban was born in Callan in County Kilkenny in 1755. He emigrated to the United States in 1785 and established himself as an architect in Philadelphia.

In July 1792, James Hoban was named as the winner of the design competition for the White House. His initial design seems to have had a 3-story facade, nine bays across. Under George Washington's influence, James Hoban amended this to a 2-story facade, 11 bays across, and, at Washington's insistence, the whole presidential mansion was faced with stone.

After eight years of construction, President John Adams and his wife, Abigail, moved into the unfinished house in 1800. During the War of 1812, the British set fire to the President’s House in 1814.

James Hoban was appointed to rebuild the house, and President James Monroe moved into the building in 1817. During Monroe’s administration, the South Portico was constructed in 1824, and Andrew Jackson oversaw the addition of the North Portico in 1829.

During the late 19th century, various proposals were made to significantly expand the President’s House or to build an entirely new house for the president, but these plans were never realized.

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