Downtown in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Construction of the White House
— National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior —
On July 16, 1790, Congress passed the Residence Act, establishing a permanent capital for the United States along the Potomac River. President George Washington worked with French engineer Peter (Pierre) Charles L'Enfant to select the sites for federal buildings, including the White House and the United States Capitol.
In 1792, an encampment was built on this land for American, English, Scottish, and Irish wage laborers and craftsmen, along with barracks for enslaved African Americans who were hired out by their owners. These workers—free and enslaved, skilled and unskilled—labored alongside each other for the next eight years to build the White House.
During that time, hundreds of enslaved people were involved in nearly every aspect of construction including quarrying and transporting stone, cutting timber, producing bricks, and building the walls and roof. Throughout each phase of construction, enslaved and free African Americans worked as axe men, stone cutters, carpenters, brick makers, sawyers, and laborers. The use of enslaved labor to build the home of the President of the United States—often seen as a symbol
Erected 2021 by National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior in partnership with the White House Historical Association.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Architecture • Government & Politics. A significant historical date for this entry is July 16, 1790.
Location. 38° 54.005′ N, 77° 2.195′ W. Marker is in Downtown in Washington, District of Columbia. Marker is at the intersection of H Street Northwest and 16th Street Northwest / Black Lives Matter Plaza, on the right when traveling east on H Street Northwest. The marker stands on the north side of Lafayette Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1600 H St NW, Washington DC 20006, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Demonstration (here, next to this marker); Commemoration and Preservation (here, next to this marker); St. John's Church (within shouting distance of this marker); The Bernard Baruch Bench of Inspiration (within shouting distance of this marker); Ashburton House (within shouting distance of this marker); Baron von Steuben Memorial (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Kosciuszko (about 300 feet away); Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Downtown.
Credits. This page was last revised on August 2, 2021. It was originally submitted on July 31, 2021, by Ray Gurganus of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 55 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on July 31, 2021, by Ray Gurganus of Washington, District of Columbia. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.