The East Wing east face, circa 2005
East Wing Overview
President Jefferson added colonnaded terraces to the east and west sides of the White House, but no actual wings. Under Jackson in 1834, running water was piped in from a spring and pumped up into the east terrace in metal tubes. These ran through the walls and protruded into the rooms, controlled by spigots. Initially, the water was for washing items, but soon the first bathing rooms were created, in the ground-level east colonnade. Van Buren had shower baths installed here. The East Terrace was removed in 1866. For many years, a greenhouse occupied the east grounds of the White House.
TR's Social Entrance: 1902
The first small East Wing was built in 1902, during the Theodore Roosevelt renovations as an entrance for formal and public visitors. This served mainly as an entrance for guests during large social gatherings, when it was necessary to accommodate many cars and carriages—as well as many cloaks and hats. It's primary feature was the long cloak room with spots for coats and hats of the ladies and gentlemen. This would eventually be converted into the Family Theater.
FDR's Bomb Shelter: 1942
The East Wing as it exists today was added to the White House in 1942 primarily to cover the construction of an underground bunker, now the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC). Around the same time, Theodore Roosevelt's coatroom became the movie theater. Later, offices for correspondence, calligraphers and the social secretary were placed in the East Wing. Eleanor Roosevelt employed the first social secretary.
Office of the First Lady: 1977
Rosalynn Carter, in 1977, was the first to place her personal office in the East Wing and to formally call it the "Office of the First Lady." Today, the social secretary prepares all of the invitations and written correspondence for every event held at the White House. The East Wing serves as office space for the first lady and her staff, including the White House social secretary and correspondence staff.
The East Wing also includes the Garden Room, Family Theater, Visitors Foyer, and the East Colonnade corridor. Visitors touring the White House enter through the east entrance and follow the East Colonnade past the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden to enter the Residence to see rooms on the Ground and State Floors.
Click a button below to see inside the East Wing
The East Wing from the northeast in 1992 (HABS - Jack Boucher)
The East Wing from the southeast in 1992 (HABS - Jack Boucher)
The East Wing from the southwest in 1992 (HABS - Jack Boucher)
The East Wing east face in 1992 (Library of Congress - HABS)
The East Wing in 1987, looking southeast (Dept of Defense)
East Wing from the "East Garden" side in 1952, showing the gallery colonnade glassed in and a second floor added (Truman Library - Abbie Rowe)
East Wing in 1922, looking northwest
East Wing, circa 1920, looking southeast (Library of Congress)
East Wing, circa 1919, looking west (Library of Congress)
East Wing, circa 1917, looking northwest (Library of Congress - Harris & Ewing)
Women's voting rights activists picketing the White House in 1917,
the first time the White House had been picketed (Library of Congress)
Search lights light up the White House on the 1911 wedding anniversary of the Tafts (Library of Congress)
East Wing, late 1906 (Library of Congress)
Guests at Alice's wedding arrive in February, 1906 (Library of Congress - Keystone View)
The "East Garden" circa 1904, showing the East Wing's open colonnade (Library of Congress)
Theodore Roosevelt East Wing, circa 1904 (Library of Congress)
Theodore Roosevelt East Wing, circa 1902 (Corbis)
East entrance to the White House in 1899 (Library of Congress)
East entrance to the White House, around 1880 (Library of Congress)