Published: 26 January 2024

Famous Doors: The North Portico

The White House front door, known as the North Portico entrance, has a rich history dating back to the early 19th century.

The White House construction began in 1792 under the supervision of architect James Hoban. The original design featured a simple wooden door at the front entrance, facing south. This door was the main entrance for many years.

During the presidency of Andrew Jackson, significant renovations were undertaken, including the addition of the North Portico. Designed by architect Benjamin Latrobe, this portico featured a prominent semi-circular colonnade with Ionic columns. The North Portico became the new main entrance to the White House, facing Pennsylvania Avenue.

Over the years, various alterations and renovations were made to the White House, including modifications to the North Portico entrance. Notably, during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt in the early 20th century, architect Charles Follen McKim redesigned the North Portico, adding the iconic stone steps and the balcony above.

In response to security concerns, particularly after incidents like the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1981, security measures around the White House were increased. This included modifications to the North Portico entrance to enhance security without significantly altering its historic appearance.

The White House undergoes regular maintenance and preservation efforts to ensure its historic integrity. This includes periodic restoration of the North Portico entrance to maintain its architectural features and structural integrity.

Overall, the White House front door, particularly the North Portico entrance, has evolved over time while retaining its iconic appearance as a symbol of the American presidency and government. It continues to serve as the main entrance for dignitaries, visitors, and the President of the United States.


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