The World’s Most Powerful Lawn: Exploring the Grounds of the White House
With President’s Day upon us, let’s take a moment to celebrate the world’s most powerful yard. The White House is 221 years old and has been home to every US President except for George Washington. The grounds of the White House contain some of the most famous lawns and gardens in the United States. Here are some interesting facts about the White House grounds:
- Gerald Ford built the outdoor swimming pool. President Ford was an avid swimmer and had the pool and cabana installed at the White House. An underground passage leads from the White House to the pool.
- Long before the pool was built, Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams both liked to skinny dip in the Potomac. After a swim, Jackson would return to the White House and weed the gardens before beginning his day’s work.
- In 1994, Frank Eugene Corder, an aircraft mechanic, stole a small airplane and attempted to crash it into the White House. Corder was intoxicated and crashed the plane into the White House lawn, missing his target and killing himself in the process.
- Jimmy Carter designed and helped build a treehouse on the White House grounds for his daughter, Amy. When Amy had slumber parties in the treehouse, they received Secret Service protection.
- First Lady Ellen Wilson created the famous White House Rose Garden in 1913. John and Jacqueline Kennedy redesigned the Rose Garden in the early 1960’s. The current design is based upon the agricultural traditions of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
- By the time the Kennedys moved into the White House, the grounds had fallen into disrepair. Jacqueline Kennedy redesigned and replanted many of the gardens, one of which is now named for her. It is used for award ceremonies.
- Many different animals have lived on the White House grounds, including horses, tiger cubs, cows, an eagle, possums, parrots, snakes, bears, a hyena, a pygmy hippo, a wallaby, and crocodiles.
- The White House Easter Egg Roll has been a tradition since 1878. The Easter Egg Roll was established by Rutherford B. Hayes.
- The White House fence encloses 18 acres of land.
- President Hoover played a game of his own invention called “Hooverball” with his advisers that involved throwing a heavy medicine ball over a net.