A White House "restoration" was undertaken by President Theodore Roosevelt. Under Theodore Roosevelt, the 19th-century conservatories were razed, and a new "temporary" Executive Office Building, later called the West Wing, was erected. President Theodore Roosevelt worked in his new rectangular office for the first time on November 5. The first cabinet meeting was held in the new wing on November 6.
The West Wing was doubled in size and included the first presidential Oval Office centered on the south facade. William Howard Taft became the first president to work in the Oval Office.
On February 14, President Taft signed legislation in an Oval Office ceremony authorizing statehood for Arizona and New Mexico. He became the first chief executive to preside over 48 states.
President Wilson signed the declaration of war against the Central Powers on April 7. The Executive Office Building immediately became a war center open around the clock as 60 to 75 clerks and other personnel manned the telegraphs, telephones, and the equivalent of a map room.
Warren Harding became the first president to die in office since the construction of the executive offices. His desk in the Oval Office was draped with black crepe in memoriam.
Herbert Hoover was the first president to have a telephone installed on his desk on March 27. A fire on Christmas Eve 1929 gutted the Executive Office Building and a reconstruction began immediately.
« Newsreel Video: The 1929 West Wing Fire
President Franklin D. Roosevelt increased the office area of a now permanent office wing from 15,000 to 40,000 square feet. A "penthouse" story and an enlarged subterranean office area with a lightwell were built. The Oval Office was relocated to the West Wing’s southeast corner-its present location-to overlook the Wilson Rose Garden.
The Social Security Act was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in a bill-signing ceremony in the Cabinet Room on August 14.
« Newsreel Video: FDR Addresses the Nation
Crowds of angry Americans surrounded the White House on December 7 as news spread of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. The Secret Service installed bulletproof glass in the windows of the president’s Oval Office, sentries patrolled the roof with machine guns, and builders constructed a bomb shelter under a new East Wing (1942).
On April 12, Harry S. Truman was sworn in as president in the Cabinet Room. The ceremony, according to Truman’s recollections, took one minute, 7:08-7:09 p.m. On August 14, 1945, President Truman held a press conference in the Oval Office to announce Japan’s surrender and the end of World War II.
« Newsreel Video: President Truman at Work
To avoid confusion the White House Executive Office Building became known officially as the West Wing when the adjacent Department of State Building (Eisenhower EOB) was converted for use as executive offices.
« Newsreel Video: President Truman's Last Speech as President, 1953
October 25 marked the first telecast of a cabinet meeting in the West Wing.
« Newsreel Video: President Eisenhower Press Conference, 1953
« Newsreel Video: "Ike's Day," Rose Garden Press Conference, 1957
President John F. Kennedy had the Rose Garden redesigned to serve presidential functions.
« Newsreel Video: Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy Meet the Press
The West Wing became the center of a world crisis as the possibility of a nuclear conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union loomed over a confrontation about Soviet nuclear-capable missiles placed in Cuba.
Civil Rights leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, and A. Philip Randolph, conferred with President Kennedy in the Oval Office prior to the Freedom March on Washington on August 28.
« Newsreel Video: The Kennedy Assassination
« Newsreel Video: President Johnson at the White House
On June 13, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced to the press in the Rose Garden the nomination of Thurgood Marshall, the first African American to serve as a Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
President Johnson announced on television on March 31 from the Oval Office that he would not run for re-election. His dramatic decision was made in the hopes that the Vietnam War might be resolved if he removed himself from the center of the conflict.
"Hello, Neil and Buzz. I’m talking to you by telephone from the Oval Room at the White House, and this certainly has to be the most historic telephone call ever made." President Richard Nixon spoke from the Oval Office by radiotelephone to Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong and Lunar module pilot Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin on July 20.
Additional offices were built reducing the size of the Reception Lobby. A press center was created within the West Terrace, and a porte-cochere and circular drive were added.
Patricia Nixon (daughter of President and Mrs. Richard Nixon) married Edward Finch Cox in the Rose Garden on June 12.
In the summer of 1973, it was revealed that President Nixon secretly taped private conversations that he had in the Oval Office. One year later, the tapes were given to Congress and they proved Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate scandal. Rather than face impeachment, Nixon resigned. He announced his decision to leave office in a television address on August 8. President Gerald R. Ford announced his controversial decision to pardon Richard Nixon from the White House press room.
Islamic militants stormed the United States Embassy in Tehran, Iran, and took Americans hostage. The West Wing once again became a crisis center as President Jimmy Carter and his staff planned a response.
President Ronald Reagan announced the appointment of Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court in a Rose Garden ceremony. O’Connor became the first female to be sworn in as Supreme Court Justice on September 25.
President Reagan and his staff watched a tape of the space shuttle Challenger launch from the West Wing offices on January 28 and with the nation mourned the horrific explosion.
The U.S.-led multinational force launched Operation Desert Storm on January 16 to begin the Persian Gulf War against Iraq. President George Bush transformed the West Wing into a strategic center to plan a build up and invasion that ended Iraqi occupation of Kuwait and forced Iraq’s acceptance of U.N. ceasefire terms that formally ended the war.
The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed. Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House was closed to traffic.
The U.S. House of Representatives approved two of four proposed Articles of Impeachment against President Bill Clinton. The president held a Rose Garden rally with supporters and later was acquitted of the two articles by the Senate.
Terrorists attack the United States on September 11. Once again the West Wing became a logistical center for the nation at war.
The West Wing celebrated its 100th birthday on November 5.
The Press Briefing Room in the West Wing dates to 1970. It was named for James S. Brady in 2000. Brady was the White House press secretary who was wounded in an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. Beginning in 2006, the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room underwent a renovation to replace the air conditioning and electrical systems. In 2007, President Bush cut the ribbon to dedicate the improved space, which features interactive media screens, two backdrop sets, better sound balance, new TV production work stations, and cooler, more energy-efficient lighting. whitehouse.gov