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By the time Theodore Roosevelt took office, the use of electric light was common in American houses. The entire wiring system was replaced during a major restoration of the White House in 1902. Only the service areas of the house retained their gaslight fixtures, and these were used only in case of a power failure. A large main kitchen and an everyday kitchen were built in 1902 with white tile, nickel plate, and gloss white painted wall and floor finishes that gleamed. The large kitchen used to prepare meals for state functions had four gas ovens and two hotel-size gas ranges. President William H. Taft's administration began the White House fleet's transition from coaches and carriages to cars in 1909. Taft also attempted the installation of an air-conditioning system, in which electric fans blew over great bins of ice in the attic, cooling the air, which was forced through the air ducts of the heating system. This never worked and was soon abandoned.

The White House kitchen in 1901.

Library of Congress

Footnotes & Resources

William Seale, The President's House, 749, 759; and William Seale, The White House: The History of an American Idea, 169.

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