Published January 15, 2009
Five days before he moves into the White House, President-elect Barack Obama and his family were moving across the street from it on Thursday -- into Blair House, the government's official guest residence.
Built in 1824, Blair House has provided a temporary home to every president since Andrew Jackson. Since 1942, it also has served as a guest house for visiting heads of state.
The Obamas, who moved into a Washington hotel earlier this month so their daughters could start going to their new school, were unable to move into Blair House until Australian Prime Minister John Howard, a temporary guest, left.
A spokeswoman for Michelle Obama said the family is moving in now, because that's always been the plan. She declined to offer any details about the move.
With 119 rooms and 70,000 square feet of space, Blair House is actually bigger than the White House. The complex includes 14 guest bedrooms, eight staff bedrooms, 35 bathrooms, four dining rooms, kitchen facilities, laundry and dry cleaning facilities, an exercise room, a flower shop, and a fully equipped hair salon.
The complex is filled with history. Abraham Lincoln offered command of the Union Army to Robert E. Lee there before the Civil War. Lee, knowing that his native Virginia was about to secede from the union, declined the offer. Two days later, he resigned from the U.S. Army and assumed command of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.
In 1950, President Harry S. Truman survived an assassination attempt there by a pair of Puerto Rican nationalists seeking to bring attention to their homeland's independence movement. The would-be-assassins, Oscar Collazo and Griselio Toresola, injured two White House policemen and killed one in an exchange of gunfire. Collazo was injured and Griselio Torresola was killed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.