The Extraordinary History and Legacy of the White House

Lindsay Chervinsky
Lindsay Chervinsky
George Washington University

Dr. Lindsay M. Chervinsky is a Professorial Lecturer at the George Washington University, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University, and the Kundrun Open-Rank Fellow at the International Center for Jefferson Studies. Her writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Ms. Magazine, The Daily Beast, The Bulwark, Time Magazine, USA Today, CNN, and the Washington Post, and she is the author of the award-winning book, The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution. Previously, Dr. Chervinsky worked as a historian at the White House Historical Association.


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The White House, and the Oval Office in particular, offers the greatest home field advantage in the world. But the building is so much more than where the President of the United States works; it is a home, a giant garden, a restaurant, a fortress, and a museum. Join Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky to learn about the history of the White House, from the grand ideals that formed the nation’s capital city, to the Christmas traditions that continue to this day. Along the way, you’ll learn about the enslaved workers that constructed the building, the many renovations, the art, the famous visitors, the exotic residents, and the ongoing historic preservation and educational mission of the building.



Professor Chervinsky’s Recommended Readings:

The Invisibles: The Untold Story of African American Slaves in the White House, by Jesse J. Holland.

Jefferson’s White House: Monticello on the Potomac, by James B. Conroy

Lincoln’s White House: The People’s House in Wartime, by James B. Conroy


Discussion Questions:

  1. What were the ideas that motivated Congress to build a federal city and an executive mansion?
  2. How has the White House evolved over time?
  3. What were the biggest surprises about the history of the White House?
  4. Why does the White House at Christmas hold so much symbolic value?



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