Main Content

President Roosevelt's White House Improvements

Copyright © White House Historical Association. All rights reserved under international copyright conventions. No part of this article may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Requests for reprint permissions should be addressed to

Reconstruction of the West Wing in 1930 after extensive damage by a Christmas Eve fire in 1929 included a central air-conditioning system installed by Carrier Engineering Company. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his staff experienced their first warm season at the White House in 1933, air-conditioning units were added to the private quarters on the second floor. Roosevelt swam as therapy for polio, so an indoor pool featuring modern water circulation and sterilization technology was built for him in the West Terrace in 1933. Broadcasting equipment was moved into the Diplomatic Reception Room, the setting for Roosevelt's fireside chats. In the mid-1930s the house's electrical system was rewired and both the large and small kitchens were remodeled to feature such modern conveniences as hotel-size electric ranges and ovens. The result was modern streamlined kitchens of stainless steel, immaculate and uncluttered; indirect lighting fell on cream-colored walls and on green and cream-colored linoleum with borders. The small kitchen was converted into a pantry, with refrigerators and warming ovens, serving both the kitchen and the State floor pantry, to which it was linked by electric dumbwaiters and a narrow, twisting stair.

President Franklin Roosevelt addresses the nation in a fireside chat.

National Archives and Records Administration