More than $3 million in renovations are being performed on the White House this month.I have to admit: seeing photographs of storage PODS lined up outside the White House makes me wonder just a little about the historic pieces stored within. I mean, what about the famous fine china? Or the storied antiques? Are pieces of our country's history just neatly stacked up inside ordinary steel containers, while renovations are underway? But like any house, I suppose, the White House requires regular maintenance and upkeep. The renovations taking place over a two-to-three-week span include upgrades to the 27-year-old HVAC system ($1.965 million), new carpet ($1.17 million), and new paint ($275,000), in addition to upgrades to the IT systems and restorations to the 64-year-old South Portico steps. Crews are working around the clock to complete everything in a timely fashion. [gallery columns="2" size="full" ids="3444,3443"] Before you go accusing President Trump of being a big spender, however, it's important to note that the funds for the HVAC renovations were approved three years ago, and the Obamas just never moved forward with the massive project. Likewise, the cost of the new carpet and paint were already accounted for in this year's budget. "This expenditure is in line, or under, what the past three prior administrations have spent," White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters told Fortune Magazine. [gallery size="full" ids="3445,3439,3442"]
And according to those privileged enough to frequent the 217-year-old mansion on a regular basis, the White House has been in need of some upgrades for quite some time. For instance, recent flash-flooding in the Washington, D.C., area uncovered a serious ceiling leak problem, which caused a"foul odor" and required strategically-placed trash cans to catch the drips. In addition, the Oval Office has become the victim of a common house fly infestation, requiring the use of bug zappers.[gallery columns="2" size="full" ids="3441,3440"]
Because the overhaul requires much of the White House to be completely emptied, President Trump is working remotely from New York during the project, while his staff has moved to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next door to the White House. But it's not uncommon for renovations to be scheduled while U.S. presidents are away:
During the last summer vacation @BarackObama took, we replaced hundreds of phones throughout the house," David Recordon, former director of White House IT, tweeted. "Another before, we deployed Wi-Fi :)."
Each presidential family traditionally leaves its own mark on the White House. Thomas Jefferson got rid of an outhouse and had two "water closets" installed on an upper floor. The first flushing toilet, bathtub, and running hot water were added almost 50 years later during Millard Fillmore's presidency. Theodore Roosevelt added electric lights and an elevator about 50 years after that. After much-needed repairs to the crumbling mansion were postponed during the Depression and World War II, it was left to Harry Truman to undergo a massive gutting and structural overhaul, which lasted three years and included replacing wooden structural beams with steel. Jackie Kennedy redecorated the house with genuine period furniture, while Richard Nixon had a bowling alley built in the basement. An outdoor swimming pool was added by Gerald Ford, and George and Laura Bush upgraded the family theater and renovated the press-briefing room.[gallery columns="2" size="full" ids="3447,3446"]
The Congressional Financial Services and Appropriations Act of 2008 estimated that White House repairs and upkeep would cost $1.6 million annually, however, the assessed needs for each year vary and could amount to less or more than the $1.6 million figure. And if a president goes over the allocated amount with frivolous improvements beyond what's deemed required, it is up to him to foot the difference in the bill.[caption id="attachment_21391" align="aligncenter" width="680"] Image courtesy of Michael Reynolds, European Pressphoto Agency[/caption]
Built between 1792 and 1800, the White House mansion has 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, eight staircases, and three elevators.
For more interesting information on White House decoration (and what's allowed or not allowed!), click here.
What do you think about the White House renovations? Tell us in the comments below!