President Joe Biden meets Vice President Kamala Harris, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and other officials, Friday January 29, 2021, in the Oval Office.  Image by: Adam Schultz via Facebook, Public Domain, Wikimedia

Fireplaces are comforting, visually stunning, and a fantastic source of heat. The various shapes, sizes, and types available allow homeowners to find the perfect one for them.

If you need reasons to love fireplaces as much as we do, then look no further than the most notable “home” in the United States of America: The White House.

Located in our nation’s capital, Washington D.C., it’s the temporary home of every sitting U.S. President and their family. It’s filled with paintings, chandeliers, government workers, and over 30 beautiful, carefully crafted wood-burning hearths and mantels.

Unlike most other parts of the House, these fireplaces aren’t just for pleasing visuals. They’ve played a consistent role for many presidents over the building’s lifespan. 

This blog post will detail some interesting information about the centuries-old love between U.S. presidents and wood-burning fires. 

White House Fireplace Facts

It’s well known that American Democratic and Republican politicians rarely agree on things; however, fireplaces have proved not to be one of them.

Here are some interesting facts about hearths in the White House:

  • Many people wonder, “Are there fireplaces in the White House?” There are approximately 35 fireplaces and chimneys in the House today.
  • For many years, the White House was heated solely by fires. While that was common before the 1900s, many large, drafty rooms were challenging to keep warm. President Andrew Jackson famously complained, “Hell itself couldn’t heat the northwest corner.” It remained the primary heat source until the mid-1880s.
  • A team of veteran sweeps from across the country comes together to clean the White House chimneys every year.
  • This trend was started by a chimney professional named Jeff Schmittinger from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The story goes, in 1993, after President Bill Clinton gave an inspiring speech about making sacrifices to overcome the American financial crisis, Jeff decided to offer his services to the House for free. Believe it or not, the Clinton administration took him up on his offer! You can read more about this amazing chimney sweep story here
Blue Room Fireplace

The Blue Room Fireplace in 1952

Presidential Fireplace Facts

From Theodore Roosevelt to Joe Biden, Democrat to Republican, “young” to old, U.S. presidents have a long history of enjoying and personalizing the presidential palace fireplaces.

Here are some interesting facts about how Presidents utilized White House fireplaces: 

  • Theodore Roosevelt had a passion for all things outdoors. He expressed that passion in the State Dining Room by hiring masons to carve heads of American Bison in the stone facing. He also decorated the mantel with hunting trophies and mounted a moose head above it.
  • In the year 1800, President John Adams wrote this famous blessing to his wife: “I pray Heaven to bestow the best of Blessings on this House and on all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise Men ever rule under this roof.” President Franklin D. Roosevelt had this message carved into the state dining room mantel, where you can still find it today.
  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt was internationally famous for conducting his “fireside chats” to millions on the radio; however, those chats never actually happened in front of or around a fire.
Ronald Reagan White House Oval Office

President Ronald Reagan and the Israeli Prime Minister posing in front of the Oval Office mantel

 

    • Presidents Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter loved burning during the cold Washington D.C. winters. Nixon loved fires so much that he’d consistently burn during the Summers, even with the air conditioning running. Wasteful, yes, but we can’t say we blame him! 
    • Carter grew up around wood-burning systems throughout his youth. To make his 4-year house truly feel like a home, he had six wood stoves installed around the building.
    • The sitting Commander-in-Chief at the time of this blog, Joe Biden, has quickly become a fan of burning real wood fires in the Oval Office fireplace while he’s working. Rumor has it; his german shepherds, Major and Champ, are bigs fans of it too! In this article, you can learn more about Biden’s daily Presidential routine.

Summary

Fireplaces in the White House consistently accomplish the near-impossible: make politicians on both sides of the aisle agree on something without debate.

Do you ever wonder why so many White House press conferences, videos, meetings, and photos occur in front of a fire or mantel? The answer is simple: Fire surrounds make everything better.

They are an excellent source of heat, comfort, and beauty. The versatility of styles and designs allows for essentially any homeowner to find the perfect one of their own.  

If they are beloved and trusted by the most influential people in one of the world’s most famous homes, we promise a fireplace will benefit your home as well!

Barack Obama white house fireplace

President Barack Obama speaking to the media in front of the fireplace. Notice the logs are stacked using the Upside Down Fire Method.

Are you ready to have one installed of your own? Check out our fireplace installation page, or give us a call to schedule an appointment today!

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