Business Insider – The White House is instantly recognizable. But these new digital renderings show five alternate versions of what the building could have looked like.Estimated Reading Time: just 4 min

As reported on Business Insider:

A front view of the White House.
A front view of the White House.


  • In 1792, George Washington launched a public competition to choose the structural design for the White House.
  • Irish-born architect James Hoban’s entry was ultimately chosen and built into the building that stands today.
  • But new digital renderings offer a glimpse into what the iconic building might have looked like instead.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The stark-white, neoclassical mansion that sits at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the heart of the nation’s capital is one of the most recognizable buildings throughout the world.

But the hallowed seat of American politics and power could have looked completely different.

The White House design was chosen in a public design competition launched by the country’s first president, George Washington, in 1792, prompting famed architects and imaginative amateurs alike to create plans for a presidential home that could rival the lush palaces of Europe.

While Irish-born architect James Hoban’s familiar design was the ultimate winner, everyone from a former British soldier to future President Thomas Jefferson made a play for architectural renown.

Now, The Maryland Center for History and Culture has teamed up with HouseFresh to recreate the previously unseen entries, creating a set of digital renderings that offer a glimpse into what could have been.

Then-Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, who was also an architect and classical European design enthusiast, submitted this anonymous entry.

A rendering of Thomas Jefferson's entry to the White House design competition.
A rendering of Thomas Jefferson’s entry to the White House design competition.


Experts attribute this entry, titled "Abraham Faws" to Jefferson. They believe a clerical error led Jefferson’s anonymous design to be attributed to the amateur Faws, according to HouseFresh and The Maryland Center for History and Culture.

Less than ten years later, Jefferson would move into the White House as president in 1801. During his presidency he expanded on the building, adding additional colonnades. 


Amateur architect Phillip Hart submitted entries for both the White House and the Capitol building.

Phillip Hart's entry for the White House design competition.
Phillip Hart’s entry for the White House design competition.


Experts believe Hart was likely a professional builder and his sketches for both the Capitol and president’s home lacked the sophistication Washington was in desire of, according to HouseFresh.


Andrew Mayfield Cashores, a former British soldier, linguist, and teacher, designed a structure resembling pre-Revolutionary War architecture.

A rendering of Andrew Mayfield's White House design.
A rendering of Andrew Mayfield Cashores’ White House design.


Had Cashore’s design been chosen, the White House would have had a steeply-pitched roof featuring a rainwater reservoir and walkway, but the judges reportedly thought his sketches lacked "spark."


Jacob Small submitted four entries to the design contest and experts believe his structures were inspired by George Washington’s home, Mount Vernon, and the Maryland State House in Annapolis.

A digital rendering of Jacob Small's White House design.
A digital rendering of Jacob Small’s White House design.


Historians note that Small did anticipate oval-shaped rooms in the president’s home, but failed to integrate them in a meaningful way.


Experts believe James Diamond’s grand design for the presidential home would have been too "ornate" for George Washington’s liking.

A digital rendering of James Diamond's White House design.
A digital rendering of James Diamond’s White House design.


Like the eventual winner of the competition, James Diamond was also an architect and builder from Ireland.

His proposal includes ionic columns and pediment-capped window frames.


Read the original article on Business Insider

Source: Business Insider
Author: (Erin Snodgrass)
Date: August 18th 2021

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