5.9k Share this
Digital renderings of centuries old sketches have revealed what the White House might have looked like.
George Washington held a competition in 1792 to design a house for the president, eventually selecting Irish-American architect James Hoban’s neoclassical mansion which is now known around the world.
But most people have never seen the alternative designs for the presidential palace – including a losing entry from future president Thomas Jefferson himself.
The almost-White House designs were submitted by architects from around the world, with one coming from then- Secretary of State Jefferson, who would go on to live in a competitors design a decade later when he became the nation’s third president.
But now sketches of the losing designs accompanied by computer- generated renderings show us what these alternate Presidential Palaces would have looked like today.
The renderings are a result of a collaboration between HouseFresh.com and the Maryland Center for History and Culture that bring to life alternate versions of the Executive Mansion.
The Maryland Center for History and Culture have carefully preserved the designs, which were each sketched with a single sheet of crème paper with pricked guide points, pen and iron gall ink, with pencil shading.
Aerial view of the White House, designed by Irish-American James Hoban who won a design competition ran by George Washington
A scenic summer view of the South Lawn with the iconic portico of the White House in the nation’s capital
Below are the sketches and digital renderings of the available unchosen designs for the White House:
Thomas Jefferson’s Plan
Frontal view of Thomas Jefferson’s plan for the White House, he would end up expanding the property, adding colonnades and other adjustments during his tenure
Aerial view of a digital rendering of Thomas Jefferson’s losing entry labelled ‘Abraham Faws’ due to a clerical error. It features a huge dome and a more classical European front
Thomas Jefferson, who was also an architect and enthusiast of classical European design, submission for the White House design competition
You would think that Jefferson, who was serving as Secretary of State at the time of his submission and worked closely with the administration of the competition, would have a clear advantage but his design ultimately was not selected.
Jefferson was also an architect and enthusiast of classical European design.
Experts attribute a losing entry labelled ‘Abraham Faws’ to Jefferson, HouseFresh.com reported
Faws himself had submitted his own entry, described as ‘amateurish,’ but due to a clerical error, Jefferson’s anonymous design was mislabeled.
Jefferson would ultimately move into the residence when he took the oval office in 1801 and said it was ‘big enough for two emperors, one Pope and the grand Lama’ but would end up expanding the property, adding colonnades and other adjustments during his tenure.
Philip Hart’s Plan
An amateur architect, professional builder Phillip Hart submitted proposals for both the president’s house and the Capitol
The rejected design features a foreshortened top floor and faux-Renaissance style that reportedly ‘lacked the style and sophistication’ that Washington desired for the residence
Phillip Hart’s ‘faux-Renaissance style’ design for the White House featured three levels and two front balconies
An amateur architect, professional builder Phillip Hart submitted proposals for both the president’s house and the Capitol.
The rejected design features a foreshortened top floor and faux-Renaissance style that housefresh.com reports ‘lacked the style and sophistication’ that Washington desired for the residence.
Andrew Mayfield’s Plan
Andrew Mayfield Carshore, a linguist and former British soldier and teacher, submitted a relatively simple design for the White House
Carshore’s design reflects pre-Revolutionary War architecture, characterized by America’s colonial period of Georgian, English-style buildings
Carshore’s rejected entry to the 1792 architectural competition may have been the only building he ever designed
Andrew Mayfield Carshore, a linguist and former British soldier and teacher, submitted a simple design that reflects pre-Revolutionary War architecture, characterized by America’s colonial period of Georgian, English-style buildings, according to housefresh.com
Judges felt his work lacked a ‘vital spark’ and according to architectural historian Hugh Howard, Carshore’s rejected entry may be the only building he ever designed.
Jacob Small’s Plan
Frontal view of a digital rendering of Jacob Small’s submission for the presidential residence, which would have been just two stories
Aerial view of Jacob Small’s would-be White House. In total, Small submitted four entries to the design contest
Small’s designs are believed to be inspired by Mount Vernon, George Washington’s plantation estate house, and the Maryland State House in Annapolis
Jacob Small submitted four entries to the design contest.
Author Patrick Phillips-Shrock says Small’s designs are believed to be inspired by Mount Vernon, George Washington’s plantation estate house, and the Maryland State House in Annapolis, housefresh.com reported.
James Diamond’s Plan
Front View of a digital rendering James Diamond’s intricate White House design, which includes two arched corridors
Aerial view of Irish-born architect James Diamond’s White House design, in his notes he pointed out ‘the open court may be changed to a picture gallery and lighted from the top, which would have a grand effect’
Irish-born James Diamond was an architect and builder whose design for the White House was set around a rectangular court
Irish-born James Diamond was an architect and builder whose design for the White House was set around a rectangular court.
In his sketch, Diamond noted that his design was subject to change: ‘the open court may be changed to a picture gallery and lighted from the top, which would have a grand effect.’
The history of the White House – from Irish-born architect’s design, to attack by the British and renovations by Roosevelt and Truman
George Washington selected the site for the presidential mansion in 1791.
The following year, the cornerstone was laid and a design submitted by Irish-born architect James Hoban was chosen.
George Washington personally considered at least six designs and many of the original drawings are currently archived at the Maryland Center for History and Culture, with three submissions not publicly available.
After eight years of construction president John Adams and his wife Abigail were the first to occupied the still-unfinished residence, but there were a few setbacks along the way.
During the War of 1812, the British set fire to the President’s House, and Hoban was back on the job to rebuild his winning design.
James Monroe moved into the building in 1817, and during his administration, the South Portico was constructed.
In 1829, Andrew Jackson oversaw the addition of the North Portico.
An engraving by V. Foulquier shows the South Grounds as they appeared before the Civil War during James Buchanan’s administration
Various proposals were put forward during the late 19th century to significantly expand the President’s House or to build an entirely new residence, but these plans were never realized.
In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt began a major renovation of the White House, including the relocation of the President’s offices from the Second Floor of the Residence to the newly constructed temporary Executive Office Building (now known as the West Wing).
Roosevelt’s successor, President William Howard Taft, had the Oval Office constructed within an enlarged office wing.
Less than fifty years after the Roosevelt renovation, the White House was already showing signs of serious structural weakness.
President Harry S. Truman began a renovation of the building in which everything but the outer walls was dismantled.
The reconstruction was overseen by architect Lorenzo Winslow, and in 1952, the Truman family moved back into the White House.