The White House

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This is a 3:35 excerpt from AMERICAN MOSAIC, May 7, 2009.

Our listener question this week comes from Vietnam. Khoa Pham wants to know more about the White House, home of the American president and his family.

The White House was the largest house in the country until after the Civil War in the 1860s. The White House has one hundred 32 rooms, including 16 family and guest rooms, 35 bathrooms and three kitchens. There are six levels. The first level has many famous rooms. For example, the West Wing of the White House includes the Oval Office.

This is where the president works and meets with his advisers. The president receives guests in the Blue Room. And the State Dining Room can hold 140 people for official dinners in honor of foreign leaders.

The second and third floors are the family's private areas. When it is cold outside, the president and his family can warm up near one of the White House's 28 fireplaces. And when it is hot outside, they can swim in the outdoor pool.

The White House offers lot of things to do for entertainment. The first family can watch a movie in the small theater, play ping-pong in the family game room or bowl in the small bowling alley. Former President Richard Nixon had the bowling alley built in nineteen sixty-nine. The White House's newest occupant, Barack Obama, is not much of a bowler. But he is a big fan of basketball. He has already been seen shooting hoops on the basketball court outside. President Obama is said to be considering replacing the bowling alley with an indoor basketball court.

The Obama family recently added an outdoor playground for their two young daughters. It has a swing set, a climbing section, a slide and a tire for swinging. The Obamas can also play tennis on a court on the South Lawn, hit a few golf balls on the putting greens or run around the jogging track.

The White House has been home to forty-three presidents. America's first president, George Washington supervised the building process which began in 1792. But he never lived there. John and Abigail Adams became the building's first family in 1800. Since then, the White House has experienced many changes. And each presidential family has left its own historical mark on America's most famous house.

I'm Doug Johnson. This program, including all the parts, was written by Dana Demange and June Simms. Caty Weaver was the producer.