10 Downing Street has been the “locale” of British Prime Ministers since 1735, over 50 years before construction began on The White House.
Winston Churchill emerges from 10 Downing Street flashing a V for Victory
It’s instantly recognizable black door has shielded some of the most important decisions made in the last 275 years…the First and Second World Wars, the ending of The Empire, the building of the British nuclear bomb, handling the economic crisis of the Great Depression…just to name a few.
The White House, on the other hand, has only been on its current location since construction began in 1792, and was first occupied by President John Adams. The total cost to build was $232,372, and until after the Civil War it was the largest house in the United States. (The British burned it August 24, 1814, during the War of 1812, but did not destroy it. We’ve forgiven them since then.)
The White House
Both 10 Downing Street and The White House are the official residences, and also house the offices of The Prime Minister and The President, respectively. Both also are used to host countless receptions for both national and overseas guests.
Prime Minister Winston Churchill along with Roosevelt’s Joint Chiefs of Staff outside The White House May 24, 1943. Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library
The 55,000 square foot White House is 168 feet long by 85 feet wide (152 feet with its porticos), and is on 18 acres of land, with 132 rooms.
President and Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson walk through White House Cross hall with guest of honor, Prime Minister Harold Wilson, June 1967
10 Downing Street is much bigger than it appears from outside. In the late 18th century, the house on Downing Street was joined to a more spacious and formidable building located behind it. And over the decades it has also taken over most of 11 and 12 Downing Street. It is hard to find out exactly how many square feet or how many rooms there might be, but everyone concurs that it is a labyrinth of hallways, reception rooms and office space. William Pitt the Younger, who last lived in the house in 1806, referred to it as “My vast, awkward house”.
Margaret Thatcher and Nancy Reagan in the reception area at 10 Downing Street
The White House, of course, is white. 10 Downing Street is black. When it was refurbished in the early 60s, it was discovered it was not black at all, but that pollution had resulted in the black appearance over the yellow brick. To keep the familiar appearance, the newly cleaned yellow bricks were painted black to match their previous color.
President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan chat with Prince Charles and Princess Diana in the East Sitting Hall, November 9, 1985. Ronald W. Reagan Presidential Library
10 Downing Street’s Cabinet Office has its own official mouser, Larry the Cat. Larry was recruited from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home “on recommendation of his mousing skills”. On the 10 Downing Street website it is concluded that since joining the staff, he has made a significant impact.
Larry the Cat
I wonder how he would get along with Beau…