When did the President’s Home become the “White House”?

Today’s post is written by David Langbart, an Archivist in the Textual Records Division at the National Archives at College Park.

During the nineteenth century, the residence of the President of the United States was routinely referred to as the “Executive Mansion.”  President Theodore Roosevelt changed that in 1901.  On October 17 of that year, George B. Cortelyou, Secretary to the President, sent the following note to Secretary of State John Hay.  Presumably, a similar missive went to the heads of all other agencies.  The note bears the black mourning border in the wake of President William McKinley’s death on September 14 after being shot by an assassin on September 8.

White House
Secretary to the  President George Cortelyou to Secretary of State John Hay, 11/17/1901

Since then, the building at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has been known as the White House.

The White House emblem in the White House Press Room. (credit: C. W. Fitzpatrick, US Department of Defense)

Source: George B. Cortelyou, Secretary to the President, to Secretary of State John Hay, October 17, 1901, Miscellaneous Letters (NAID 583574), RG 59: General Records of the Department of State.  Available on National Archives Microfilm Publication M179.