The president and vice-president in the Center Hall in 2009, looking west (White House - Pete Souza)
The Vaulted Ground Floor Hall
Like all the floors, the ground floor of the White House features a large central hall. But the ground floor's hall has a dramatic vaulted ceiling that helps transfer the weight of the upper floors to the main supporting walls. Originally, this vaulting was a functional architectural element, but when the White House was rebuilt in 1952, the steel infrastructure made it unnecessary. The look was retained anyway, but it is now essentially decorative.
The hall is about 17 feet wide and 161 feet long. Presidents sometimes use this hall for televised addresses to the nation, since the vauls provide a dramatic backdrop and an easy means of approaching and departed from the cameras.
The Center Hall, circa 2000 (White House)
The Center Hall in 2000, showing the screens used to block the hall during public tours (Nick Valenziano)
The Center Hall, circa 1995, looking west
Drinking fountain in the Center Hall in 1992 (HABS)
The Center Hall stair landing, looking east (HABS)
The stairs to the Center Hall, looking south (HABS)
Center Hall in 1992, looking west (HABS)
The Center Hall's east end in 1962, looking east (Kennedy Library - Robert Knudsen)
The Center Hall in 1962, looking east (Kennedy Library - Robert Knudsen)
The Center Hall in 1952, looking east (Truman Library)
The Center Hall in 1948, looking east (Truman Library)
The Center Hall not long after the 1902 renovation made it liveable, looking northwest