The Cornerstone of the White House is Laid

The cornerstone of the White House was laid on October 13, 1792.

President John Adams and his wife Abigail moved into the unfinished structure on November 1, 1800, keeping to the scheduled relocation of the capital from Philadelphia. Congress declared the city of Washington in the District of Columbia the permanent capital of the United States on July 16, 1790. President George Washington and Charles L'Enfant, the French planner of the federal city, chose the site for the residence. Congress selected a design by James Hoban, an Irish emigrant architect living in Charleston, South Carolina for the structure. Modeled after Leister House in Dublin, Ireland, Hoban's plan featured the Palladian style popular in Europe. It was chosen over several other proposals including one submitted by Thomas Jefferson.

Constructed of white-grey sandstone that contrasted sharply with the red brick used in nearby buildings, the presidential mansion was called the White House as early as 1809. President Theodore Roosevelt officially adopted the term in 1902.

Construction of the White House began with the laying of the cornerstone on October 13, 1792, although there was no formal ceremony. The main residence, as well as foundations of the house, were built largely by enslaved and free African-American laborers, as well as employed Europeans. Much of the other work on the house was performed by immigrants, many not yet with citizenship. The sandstone walls were erected by Scottish immigrants, employed by Hoban, as were the high relief rose and garland decorations above the north entrance and the "fish scale" pattern beneath the pediments of the window hoods. Much of the brick and plaster work was produced by Irish and Italian immigrants. The initial construction took place over a period of eight years, at a reported cost of $232,371.83 ($2.8 million in 2007 dollars). Although not yet completed, the White House was ready for occupancy on or circa November 1, 1800.

I pray Heaven to bestow the best of Blessings on this House and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.”

— Letter from President John Adams to First Lady Abigail Adams, November 2, 1800