The Expansion that Never Was: 1889-1901

Expansion plan of 1889

Expansion plan of 1900 (The Outlook 1902)

Expansion plan of 1900 (The Outlook 1902)



Floor plan of the White House before the 1902 remodeling (LOC top, bottom)

Mrs. Harrison's Plan

By 1889, Mrs. Caroline Scott Harrison had decided that the White House should be expanded in a grand manner to include an executive wing and a museum wing. At that point, the conservatories remained on the west side of the White House and a only small pavilion occupied the east side.

Mrs. Harrison worked with architect Frederick D Owen to create a plan to expand the White House on the east and west sides and build a new conservatory on the south side, creating a large courtyard in the middle. The plan was rejected by Congress, and the Harrisons instead renovated the mansion with electricity and other modern conveniences.

The idea was dusted off and presented again by Colonel Bingham in 1900, along with an elaborate model, but it was rejected again. However, so was Senator Henry Cabot Lodge's plan to build an entirely new executive office building just south of the Treasury Building.

The Outlook wrote in 1902:

If the Harrison plan, as worked out in detail by Colonel Bingham and Mr. Owen, were adopted and carried into execution, there would be ample space in the lateral extensions for public dining-rooms and reception-rooms, as well as for a Presidential library, a suitable Cabinet room, Executive offices, accommodations for newspaper men, and plenty of storage for files, records, and valuable documents now exposed the the danger of accidental fire in the White House. Several independent entrances and exits, with cloak-rooms, dressing rooms, and ample carriage facilities, would obviate all of the difficulties now experienced at large evening receptions.

When Theodore Roosevelt took office, he engaged McKim, Meade, and White to develop an alternative plan with modest east and west wings which were expanded later to create the modern White House.

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More Images

Overview of the expanded White House plan of 1900 (The Outlook 1902)

Floor plan of the first floor of the official wing (The Outlook 1902)

Floor plan of the second floor of the official wing (The Outlook 1902)