Digital renders show five alternative White House designs

  • In 1792, George Washington launched a public competition to choose the structural design for the White House.
  • The entrance by Irish-born architect James Hoban was eventually chosen and incorporated into the building that stands today.
  • But new digital renderings offer a glimpse of what the iconic building might have looked like instead.
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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 in the world.

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

The White House design was chosen in a public design competition launched by the nation’s first president, George Washington, in 1792, prompting famous architects and imaginative enthusiasts to create plans for a presidential home that could rival with 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 gambled for architectural fame.

Today, the Maryland Center for History and Culture partnered with HouseFees to recreate the never-before-seen entries, creating a set of digital renders that offer a glimpse of what might have been.


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