Capitol Building Vs. White House: A Comparative Study

Have you ever wondered why two buildings share the same address? Or maybe you’ve contemplated visiting them both but haven’t had the time to do so. 

But how can you visit a building when it’s not accessible to the public? Well, if you’re curious about these two unique government landmarks, then this article is for you.

Washington, D.C.’s Capitol Building and the White House are two of the most well-known buildings in America. 

It is difficult to tell a significant difference between the two. While both are historical buildings, they were built for entirely different reasons.

This article highlights the similarities, functions, and differences between the two buildings.

Capitol Building Vs. White House

Although these monuments represent the same country(the U.S.), they were built differently. Since their original construction, both structures have had many alterations, such as electricity, elevators, and air conditioning.

While The Capitol Building was built as a place for the congress members to discuss laws and rules of the country, The U.S White House is where the President and his family live, work, and entertain.

The United States White House

This iconic building houses both the home and the office of the U.S. president, and it is a symbol of America’s democracy. It was built between 1792-1800 by a French architect named James Hoban.

In 1792, after the Revolutionary War, President Washington oversaw its construction; he never lived in it, though. 

Former President Adams and the first lady, Abigail, were the first occupants to move into the house in 1800 after its completion.

Fire has destroyed the White House twice. The first occurrence was in 1812, by an invasion of British troops on Washington, DC, where they set fire to several buildings, including both the White House and the Capitol Building. And the second time was in 1929.

It took nearly three years to rebuild it the first time. It has been rebuilt many times since then, but its exterior has remained the same since 1818.

Since John Adams, every President has resided at the White House, and the name “White House” is frequently used as a collective term for the U.S. presidency.

The name ” White House” is frequently used to allude to the operations of incumbent presidents and former presidents of the United States, although not always regarding the actual white building that houses the President’s home and offices. 

The Capitol Building 

The Capitol building is a historical structure in Washington, D.C. This is the most prominent and historical building that reflects the glorious history and culture of the United States. The structure is situated in Washington, DC, on Capitol Hill, overlooking the Potomac River. 

It is the location of the United States Congress and is home to both chambers of the United States legislature, with The U.S. 

House of Representatives on the south side and the Senate on the north side. The Capitol Building, also known as Independence Hall.

The Residence Act of 1790 authorized the President to select a site for the capital city.

George Washington was in charge of the selection of a site. He chose the precise location on January 24, 1791, during a frosty morning walk. The place is now called The Federal Triangle.

The designer of the Capitol building was architect William Thornton. The construction began in 1793, under another architect, Stephen H. Hallet. Edward Clark supervised the work to its completion in 1826.

The Capitol building is designed in neoclassical style and built with white marble from Georgia and pink granite from Maine. 

The 1814 fire almost destroyed the Capitol building. One man, Benjamin Henry Latrobe, was given the task of rebuilding the structure, which he took advantage of and added new features that weren’t there before.

The fire of 1814 forced the United States Congress to meet in temporary capitol buildings. Between 1815 to 1819, Congress met in a building erected solely for their temporary use and is referred to as the Old Brick Capitol.

Throughout the drafting stages of the bill to rebuild the Capitol, Congress proposed many different plans for financing its construction. 

The Capitol building acts as one of the three branches of the U.S. government, the legislative branch, and Congress. 

It houses the chambers of Congress, with two wings to represent the separation of powers; three stories for the Senate and four for the House of Representatives.

The President and his Cabinet, who have their offices in the White House, represent the executive branch. The Supreme Court represents the judicial branch.

Capitol Building Vs. White House: Similarities 

The Capitol Building and the White House are iconic symbols of democracy, but which one is more important? The short answer is that they’re equally important in their way. 

Both these buildings were built many years apart, but there are some similarities between these two buildings. 

  • They are both located in Washington DC. 
  • Both buildings represent the democratic process; they are the home of the legislative and executive branches of government. The House or Congress members are housed in the Capitol Building, as is the President in the White House.
  • Both of these buildings represent America’s political history and signify the power in the country. They represent how the government is run, but they also represent the people here. 
  • Another similarity is that the enemy forces burned both buildings. The White House burnt in 1812 and 1929 and the Capitol Building in 1814. In both cases, it took a long time to rebuild them again.
  • The other similarity between these buildings is that they were built on a hill. This gives both buildings a majestic look. 
  • Both are among some of the most important landmarks in the country.
  • Both structures are the administrative centers of their respective governments, and they both have historical significance. 

These buildings, which originated from an idea shared by Pierre Charles L’Enfant and George Washington, are an essential part of history. It’s a place where policies get made, where history is made, and where leaders are born.

Key Differences Between The Two Buildings

The two buildings have been standing next to each other for over 200 years, so comparing them is easy. However, they are two very different buildings with different designs, histories, and functions. 

While both buildings have great historical importance, several vital differences set these two buildings apart:

1. Function

The White House is the building that houses both the office and the U.S. president’s home and is where the President and his family live, work, and entertain.

On the other hand, the Capitol Building is where Congress meets; government officials work to pass bills and make decisions.

2. Year of Construction

First off, the White House was built in 1792, while the Capitol building was built in 1793. 

During the 1792-1800 period, James Hoban built the White House building, an architect of Irish descent. It occupies an area of approximately 55,000 square feet. 

It was built in the Neoclassical style of white-painted Aquia sandstone. Once Thomas Jefferson settled into the semi-completed structure in 1801, he fashioned short colonnades on either wing to cover stables and stores.

On September 18, 1793, Congress authorized the President to “improve the public buildings” in Washington.

President Washington commissioned William Thornton, a physician and amateur architect from Philadelphia, to design the Capitol building. 

Thornton had trained in France and, inspired by the designs of French architect Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, may have been the first American-born architect to undertake such a large project. 

Laying the cornerstone began on September 18, the same day Congress authorized construction of “a Federal House” in Washington, and ended in November 1800, when the last pinewood beam was placed atop the building’s roof.

3. Number of Renovations.

Since their original construction, both structures have had many alterations, such as electricity, elevators, and air conditioning.

However, the White House has been renovated several times, and it looks much older than the Capitol Building, yet they were built within a year of each other.

4. Architecture

The architectural styles of both buildings are different; they are built in different styles with different materials by different architects. The White House doesn’t have a dome, while the Capitol Building has two domes. 

The Capitol Building houses the chambers of Congress, with two wings to represent the separation of powers; three stories for the Senate and four for the House of Representatives. William Thornton designed the Capitol while construction began in 1793.

5. Location

The location of the White House is at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC, USA, while that of the Capitol building is at 1st Street SE, Washington DC, USA.

Conclusion

In this comparative study, we’ve looked at the history, similarities, and differences of two landmarks representing the legislative and executive branches. 

The Capitol Building and White House remain the most prominent historical buildings of great importance to the American people. We hope you have enjoyed reading it! 

John Taylor
John Taylor
John Taylor is a seasoned writer with more than 10 years of experience as a professional. He has written professionally for many different organizations, such as The Atlantic and the Boston Globe. John can write on any topic you need him to cover, from business writing to creative nonfiction pieces. His portfolio speaks for his skills; he's not only an experienced writer but also an excellent editor and researcher!

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