November 1, 1800 – John Adams Moves Into the White House

George Washington selected the site for the White House in 1791. The cornerstone was laid in 1792 and a design submitted by Irish-born architect James Hoban was chosen. After eight years of construction, President John Adams and his wife, Abigail, moved into the unfinished house (then known as “The President’s House”) on this day in history in 1800. The following Tuesday Adams lost the Presidential election to Thomas Jefferson.

The original design of the White House in 1800 (Library of Congress)

The original design of the White House in 1800 (Library of Congress)

Since June of 1800, Adams had been living at Tunnicliffe’s City Hotel near the half-finished Capitol building. Construction was still not finished when Adams moved in, but furniture from the Adams’ Philadelphia home was already in place.

The new house proved to be cold and damp, and Abigail had to hang their washing in an empty “audience room” (the current East Room). After five months, they vacated the house to make room for Jefferson, who was sworn in on March 4, 1801.

John and Abigail Adams lived out the rest of their days at their family farm in Massachusetts.


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