How It All Began
The 33rd President of the United States, Harry S. Truman, moved into the White House in
May 17, 1950: Bulldozers move earth around inside the gutted shell of the White House.
1945. To his surprise and dismay, the house had serious problems. Not only was it drafty
and creaky, it was downright unsafe.
Chandeliers in the house were observed swaying for no apparent reason, and floors moved
underneath peopleís feet when stepped on. All of the above resulted in a structural
investigation being conducted on the building, revealing haphazard retrofitting, fire
hazards and a second floor that was on the verge of collapsing.
Whatís more is that the White Houseís foundations were sinking, walls were peeling away
and disused water and gas pipes were weighing down the building and making it unsustainable.
The situation was so bad that, in June 1948, one of the legs of First Daughter Margaret
Trumanís piano fell right through a floorboard of her second-floor sitting room. This
event, along with others, made the Presidential family and its aides realize that serious
measures were required to save the historic building.
In 1949, Congress approved a $5.4 million Project to gut the building in its entirety,
replacing its interior while retaining its historic facade.
Architects, engineers, and workers toiled for the next 22 months, trying to figure out how
to remove unstable structural elements while somehow ensuring the exterior of the building
All of the construction equipment used on the site had to be carried inside in pieces,
then re-assembled before being used in order to prevent exterior damage. The first and
second floors were replaced, while several expansions and basement levels were added,
including a bomb shelter that was capable of withstanding a nuclear attack.
The Wood structure is replaced with Steel.
January 3, 1950: A second floor corridor
January 19, 1950: The East Room.
February 6, 1950: View from the Servants' dining room.
February 10, 1950: Workers dismantle a bathtub.
February 14, 1950: Workers gut a lower corridor..
February 20, 1950: The Blue Room.
February 23, 1950: Workers remove the main staircase.
March 1, 1950: The east wall of the State Dining room.
March 9, 1950: Men stand in the second floor Oval Study above the Blue Room.
February 27, 1950: A crane lifts a 40-foot beam towards a second-floor window
while workers load debris onto a truck.
November 6, 1950: Workers lay concrete ceilings for basement rooms below the northeast corner of the White House.
January 23, 1951: The Lincoln Room.
June 21, 1951: The East Room.
November 21, 1951: The State Dining Room.
January 4, 1952: Workers install new steps on the South Portico.
February 16, 1952: The South Portico with scaffolding removed.
July 19, 1951: Workers inside massive ventilation ducts in the basement of the White House.
December 4, 1951: A third floor corridor.
January 23, 1952: The State Dining Room.
March 24, 1952: Library of Congress employees place books on the shelves of
the West Sitting Room.
March 27, 1952: President Harry S. Truman and First Lady Bess Truman return
to the White House after the renovation.