North Portico

The North Portico in 2008 (C-SPAN)

The President's Front Door

Added around 1830, the North Portico was added to the White House, in keeping with the Federal Style and the original designs for the building. During the late Victorian era, Louis C Tiffany installed Tiffany glass in the windows, as he had throughout the house, later removed in the 1902 renovation.

In poor weather, a small glass vestibule is installed at the front door to create an air lock that reduces cold drafts sweeping into the Entrance Hall. Such drafts were such a problem in the early days of the White House that, in the late 1800s, the Entrance Hall was separated from the Cross Hall by a Tiffany glass screen.

Immediately to either side of the North Portico are the open courts that give light to the northern side of the ground floor and provide access to the basement for pickups and deliveries.

In the time of President Tyler, the acclaimed author Charles Dickens wrote of his visit:

I went, with my wife, at about ten. There was a pretty dense crowd of carriages and people in the courtyard, and so far as I could make out, there were no very clear regulations for the taking up or setting down of company. There were certainly no policemen to soothe startled horses, either by sawing at their bridles or flourishing truncheons in their eyes. But there was no confusion or disorder. Our carriage reached the porch in its turn, without any blustering, shouting, backing or other disturbance; and we dismounted with as much ease and comfort as though we had been escorted by the whole Metropolitan force.


More Images

The North Portico, circa 2003 at Christmastime

The Zweibel "White House in Miniature"

The North Portico in 2002 at Christmastime, hardly a change in the 100 years
since the Roosevelt 1 renovation removed the Tiffany glass

The North Portico in 1992 (HABS)

Diagram of the the North Portico in 1992 (click for large version) (HABS)

The North Portico in 1952, reopened after the reconstruction (Truman Library - Abbie Rowe)

The North Portico being renovated and getting a more expansive stair (Truman Library)

The North Portico, circa 1933 (Library of Congress)

The North Portico, circa 1920, getting its annual wash (Library of Congress)

The North Portico in 1913, revealing the court doors (Library of Congress)

The North Portico at the time of Alice Roosevelt's wedding in 1906 (Library of Congress)

The North Portico, circa 1902, with Tiffany windows (Library of Congress - Frances Benjamin Johnston)

The North Portico, circa 1893, with Tiffany windows (Library of Congress - Frances Benjamin Johnston)

The north face in 1892

The North Portico in 1889, in the Grover Cleveland years (Library of Congress)

The North Portico shortly after the Civil War, circa 1866 (Library of Congress)

The North Portico during the Civil War, circa 1865 (Library of Congress)

The north face, circa 1853, with iron fence (Library of Congress)