A popular myth exists that the White House was first painted white to cover the scorch marks left after British soldiers set fire to the house during the War of 1812. Actually, the White House first gained a lime-based whitewash in 1798 to protect the exterior stone from moisture and cracking during winter freezes. The term “White House” was occasionally used before the War of 1812, with the phrase appearing in newspapers in the first decade of the 19th century.
In 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt officially named the Executive Mansion the “White House”. Before that, the White House had been called several names, including the “President’s House”, and the “Executive Mansion”. Since nearly every U.S. state had an “executive mansion” for its governor, President Roosevelt believed the name “White House” would distinguish it as the official residence of the President of the United States.