• View of the White House's north side from Layfatte Park

    President's Park (White House)

    District of Columbia

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  • White House Fence Restoration and Sidewalk Closure

    The National Park Service is restoring the White House fence along Pennsylvania Avenue, portions of which are believed to date back to 1818. During this restoration work, sections of the White House sidewalk will be temporarily closed for public safety. More »

  • Construction Project Affecting the White House Sidewalk

    Due to a construction project, a portion of both the White House sidewalk and Pennsylvania Avenue near East Executive Avenue will be closed until April 2015.

1939 - 1940 Tree Lightings

The Ellipse

The site for the tree lighting tradition came full circle when the ceremony returned to the Ellipse in 1939. Each of these two years, live red cedar trees were transplanted from land near George Washington's home in Mount Vernon to the Ellipse. At the 1940 ceremony President Franklin D. Roosevelt prefaced his prepared remarks with an announcement that if it was desirable he and Mrs. Roosevelt would like the celebration moved to the South Lawn of the White House grounds next year remarking that such a shift in locale would make for a "more homey" celebration.

by C. L. Arbelbide
January 6, 2001

Did You Know?

White House Sandstone (NPS Photo by J. Feeney)

Scottish stonemasons were hired to build and carve the sandstone walls of the White House. Painters then covered the walls in 1798 with a whitewash to keep water and ice from seeping inside the walls and breaking them apart. So it was white from the beginning.