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Running water was introduced into the White House in 1833. Initially its purpose was to supply the house with drinking water and to fill reservoirs for protection against fire. An engineer named Robert Leckie built the system of reservoirs, pumps, and pipes that supplied the White House, and the Treasury, State, War, and Navy buildings with water. Very soon, a "bathing room" was established in the east wing to take advantage of the fine water supply. The room featured a cold bath, a shower, and a hot bath heated by coal fires under large copper boilers.

A hand pump, similar to the one depicted in this optical illusion disc, was used to get water into the White House bathing room in the 1830s.

Library of Congress

Footnotes & Resources

William Seale, The President's House, 199-200.

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