10 Things You Didn't Know About Blair House

After being bumped, the Obamas finally have access to the presidential guest mansion.


It's no secret that President-elect Obama and his family requested to move into Blair House, the official state guesthouse of the president, but were bumped by the former prime minister of Australia, John Howard. Double-booking! Incoming presidents and their families traditionally move into Blair House on January 15, five days before inauguration. The Obama family asked to move in several days earlier than the due date—before their daughters started school—but they were denied access by the Bush administration. They ended up moving into the historic Hay-Adams, instead. Howard, by the way, was booked for only one night: January 12.

Tomorrow, the Obama family will finally have access to Blair House, which stands right across from the Old Executive Office Building of the White House. Here are 10 things you may not know about the presidential guest manse:

1. The original Blair House was built in 1824.

2. Francis Preston Blair, a newspaper publisher and adviser to Presidents Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, and Abraham Lincoln, acquired the home in 1836.

3. Blair's son, Montgomery, served as postmaster general under President Lincoln.

4. In 1942, the house was purchased by the U.S. government.

5. Since that time, the mansion has served the nation as a guesthouse for heads of state visiting the White House.

6. During a foreign leader's stay, the flag of that leader's nation flies over Blair House, and Blair House serves as a de facto diplomatic mission of that nation.

7. Blair House today is a combination of the original home and three other townhouses; on the outside, they appear independent of one another, but they are connected internally.

8. The complex is actually larger than the White House, with 119 rooms and a total of 70,000 square feet.

9. President Harry Truman lived at the mansion for much of his presidency while the interior of the White House was entirely gutted and rebuilt.

10. On Nov. 1, 1950, Puerto Rican nationalists Griselio Torresola and Oscar Collazo attempted to assassinate President Truman in Blair House. Their plan failed.

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  • TAGS:
    Truman, Harry S
    Washington, DC
    Obama, Barack
    • Kimberly Castro

      Kimberly Castro is the managing editor of Money and Health at U.S. News. You can follow her on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn, circle her on Google+, or email her at kcastro@usnews.com.

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