Renaming the White House 

US #809 from the Presidential Series.

On October 12, 1901, the Executive Mansion, the president’s official residence and workplace, was renamed the White House.

In 1792, President George Washington held a public competition to find a design for the president’s home and office in Washington, DC.  Thomas Jefferson was among those that submitted designs, but James Hoban created the winning plan.

US #1338A was the first multi-colored coil stamp.

Hoban’s design incorporated features of several Irish and French country homes.  The cornerstone was laid on October 13, 1792. Though Washington oversaw the building’s construction, he retired from the presidency before it was completed.  On November 1, 1800, John Adams and his wife became the first presidential couple to live in the building, though it was still unfinished.

US #2609 was issued for the White House’s 200th anniversary.

At this time, the building was often referred to as the President’s House.  Over time, it would also be called the President’s Palace and the Presidential Mansion. Many opposed use of the word palace because it had indicated royalty. The first known use of the term “White House” appeared around 1811.

In fact, there has been a popular myth that the building was first called the White House after the War of 1812.  During that war, the British burned much of Washington, DC, including the President’s House.  A common tale claimed that after American forces reclaimed the capital and worked on repairing it, they painted the building white to cover the burn marks. While there are records of the building being called the White House before the war, its use did increase after the war.

US #3445 was issued for the 200th anniversary of the Adamses moving into the White House.

While some would start to call it the White House, the official name had been the Executive Mansion since 1810.  This was the phrase that appeared on letterheads and official documents.

US #UX143 – White House postal card.

That name would remain in official use for over 90 years.  Then on October 12, 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt decided to officially change the name to that one used for decades.  He ordered that all White House stationary now read “White House – Washington.”  Though the stationary would have a slight change, with Washington being centered under White House, the named has remained in use ever since.

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  1. This was part of the definitive series (presidential) when I started collecting. Many of these I was able to find by going through the mail, including the WH 4 1/2 c. Now getting stamps out of the waste baskets or on a piece of mail has become a rare thing indeed. For that matter people don’t write letters anymore. They text, tweet, email, etc. But things change, and someday postage stamps may disappear.

    1. People are paying their bills payments on the bank eBills online as no more use the postage stamps for bills payments by mail.

      1. Oh, really? Boo…….. (I’d say something different, but I’m being civil…unlike some Democrats)

  2. In 1938, the Post Office issued a 4 cent stamp and a 5 cent stamp. Why did they need to issue a
    4-1/2 cent stamp?

  3. I pay all bills by regular mail and just about everything else. I’m doing my part to keep the hobby alive. If you are a stamp collector then you should be doing the same. I sure hate those terrible self-sticking stamps.

  4. I thought there was a way to save and print these articles as PDF files so they could be printed without all the non related information. Then I could print the article and mount the stamps on it. It would make a nice informative album. Is there a way to do that?

  5. GREAT article! I learned a lot about how the name White House became the official name – keep the articles coming!!

  6. The article should state WHY Roosevelt changed the name. He had invited Booker T. Washington to the Executive Mansion for dinner, marking the first time a black man had been treated as an equal in the building. This, of course, outraged Southern Senators. Since Roosevelt had only been in office one month, he changed the name to appease his detractors.

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