Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, also known as W & J College or W&J, is a private liberal arts college in Washington, Pennsylvania, in the United States, which is 30 mi (48 km) south of Pittsburgh. The college traces its origin to three log cabin colleges in Washington County established by three Presbyterian missionaries to the American frontier in the 1780s: John McMillan, Thaddeus Dod, and Joseph Smith. These early schools eventually grew into two competing academies and colleges, with Canonsburg Academy, later Jefferson College, located in Canonsburg and Washington Academy, later Washington College, in Washington. These two colleges merged in 1865 to form Washington & Jefferson College. The 60-acre (24 ha) campus, located in Washington, Pennsylvania, has more than 40 buildings, with the oldest dating to 1793. While the college has historically had a difficult relationship with the city of Washington, including clashes over college expansion and finances, recent efforts have been made to improve those relations.

The college's academic emphasis is on the liberal arts and the sciences, with a focus on preparing students for graduate and professional schools. Campus activities include various religious, political, and general interest clubs, as well as academic and professional-themed organizations. The college has a strong history of competing literary societies, dating back before the union of Jefferson and Washington Colleges. Students operate a college radio station, a campus newspaper, and a literary journal. The athletic program competes in NCAA Division III. The football team has been particularly successful over its history, even competing in the 1922 Rose Bowl. A large majority of students participate in intramural athletics. Nearly all students live on campus and roughly one third are members of fraternities or sororities. A number of noteworthy alumni have attended the college or its predecessor institutions, including James G. Blaine, William Holmes McGuffey, Joseph Ruggles Wilson, who was the father of President Woodrow Wilson, and Pete Henry.

Washington & Jefferson College
Latin: Collegium Washingtoniense et Jeffersoniense
Former names
Washington College, Jefferson College
MottoJuncta Juvant (Latin)
Motto in English
"Together They Thrive"
TypePrivate liberal arts college
Endowment$142 million (2017)[1]
PresidentJohn C. Knapp
Location, ,
CampusSmall town
60 acres (24 ha)[2]
CheerWhichi Coax
ColorsRed and Black          
AthleticsNCAA Division III
W&J College logo


Early history and the academies

Washington & Jefferson College traces its origin to three log cabin colleges established by three frontier clergymen in the 1780s: John McMillan, Thaddeus Dod, and Joseph Smith.[3] The three men, all graduates from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), came to present-day Washington County to plant churches and spread Presbyterianism to what was then the American frontier beyond the Appalachian Mountains.[3] John McMillan, the most prominent of the three founders because of his strong personality and longevity, came to the area in 1775 and built his log cabin college in 1780 near his church in Chartiers.[3] Thaddeus Dod, known as a keen scholar, built his log cabin college in Lower Ten Mile in 1781.[3] Joseph Smith taught classical studies in his college, called "The Study," at Buffalo.[4]

McMillan Hall W&J College 4
Washington Academy's sole building (now called McMillan Hall), showing the original central portion and the two wings added in 1818.

Washington Academy was chartered by the Pennsylvania General Assembly on September 24, 1787.[5] The first members of the board of trustees included Reverends Dod and Smith.[5] After a difficult search for a headmaster, in which the trustees consulted Benjamin Franklin, the trustees unanimously selected Thaddeus Dod, considered to be the best scholar in western Pennsylvania.[5] Amid financial difficulties and unrest from the Whiskey Rebellion, the Academy held no classes from 1791 to 1796.[5] In 1792, the Academy secured four lots at Wheeling and Lincoln street from William Hoge and began construction on the stone Academy Building.[5] During the Whiskey Rebellion, portions of David Bradford's militia camped on a hillside that would later become home to the unified Washington & Jefferson College.[5]

Jefferson College 1830 EDITED
Jefferson College campus in 1830, with West College on the left and Providence Hall on the right

In October 1792, after a year's delay from its official incorporation resulting from "trouble with Indians," McMillan was chosen as the headmaster and Canonsburg was chosen as the location for the "Canonsburg Academy."[6] At a subsequent unknown date, McMillan transferred his students from the log cabin to Canonsburg Academy.[6] Canonsburg Academy was chartered by the General Assembly on March 11, 1794, thus placing it firmly ahead of its sister school, Washington Academy, which was without a faculty, students, or facilities.[6] On January 15, 1802, with McMillan as president of the board, the General Assembly finally granted a charter for "a college at Canonsburgh."[6]

Jefferson College and Washington College

In 1802, Canonsburg Academy was reconstituted as Jefferson College, with John McMillan serving as the first President of the Board of Trustees.[7] In 1806, Matthew Brown petitioned the Pennsylvania General Assembly to grant Washington Academy a charter, allowing it to be re-christened as Washington College.[8] At various times over the next 60 years, the various parties within the two colleges pursued unification with each other, but the question of where the unified college would be located thwarted those efforts.[9] In 1817, a disagreement over a perceived agreement for unification erupted into "The College War" and threatened the existence of both colleges.[10] In the ensuing years, both colleges began to undertake risky financial moves, especially over-selling scholarships.[11] Thanks to the leadership of Matthew Brown, Jefferson College was in a stronger position to weather the financial storm for a longer period.[11] Desperate for funds, Washington College accepted an offer from the Synod of Wheeling to take control of the college, a move that was supposed to stabilize the finances for a period of time.[12] However, Washington College then undertook another series of risky financial moves that crippled its finances.[13]

Unification of the colleges

Old Main W&J 1880s
The two identical towers on Old Main symbolize the 1865 union of Jefferson College and Washington College to form Washington & Jefferson College.

Following the Civil War, both colleges were short on students and on funds, causing them to join together as Washington & Jefferson College in 1865.[9] The charter provided for the college to operate at both Canonsburg and Washington, a position that caused significant difficulty for the administration trying to rescue the college amid ill feelings over the unification.[9] Jonathan Edwards, a pastor from Baltimore who had been president of Hanover College, was elected the first president of the unified Washington & Jefferson College on April 4, 1866.[14][15] Edwards immediately encountered significant challenges, including the difficulties of administering a college across two campuses, as well as old prejudices and hard feelings among those still loyal to either Jefferson College or Washington College.[14] Edwards resigned in 1869, as the two-campus arrangement was declared a failure and all operations were consolidated in Washington.[14] Before the merger could be completed, Canonsburg residents and Jefferson College partisans filed a lawsuit, known as the Pennsylvania College Cases, sought to overturn the consolidation plan.[16] Leadership of the college during this time fell to Samuel J. Wilson, a local pastor, and James I. Brownson, who had earlier been interim president of Washington College.[17][18] By 1871, the United States Supreme Court upheld the consolidation, allowing the newly configured college to proceed.[16]

Washington & Jefferson College

Hayes Hall
Hays Hall, named after George P. Hays, was built in 1903 and demolished in 1994.

George P. Hays, who had assumed the presidency amid the court battle and the unification controversy, led the newly unified college until 1881.[19] His successor, James D. Moffat, led the college through a period of growth where the college constructed the Old Gym, Hays Hall, Thompson Memorial Library, and Thistle Physics Building, as well as purchasing the land known as the "old fair ground," now used for Cameron Stadium.[20] Towards the end of his term, Moffat personally paid for the 1912 renovations of McMillan Hall.[21] In 1914, Frederick W. Hinitt was elected president. His tenure was dominated by the United States' entry into World War I, with an enrollment drop of 50%.[22] William E. Slemmons, a college trustee and adjunct professor, succeeded Hinitt and served as interim president from May 1918 to June 1919.[23] After the war ended in 1919, Samuel Charles Black took over and helped to stabilize the enrollment.[24] While on a honeymoon tour of national parks, Black became ill and died.[25] His successor, Simon Strousse Baker, was well liked by the college's trustees and by "many a townsman", but the student body felt that Baker was "autocratic" and held an "unfriendly attitude toward the student body as individuals."[24][26] Baker defended himself, saying that the perceived ill-will towards students was unintentional and a misunderstanding.[24] Nonetheless, the student body held a strike and general walkout in 1931, prompting Baker to resign.[24][26]

Named after Howard J. Burnett, the Burnett Center was constructed in 1998.

Baker's successor, Ralph Cooper Hutchison, was much more popular with the student body.[27] In an effort to strengthen the college's science department, Hutchison extended and expanded the southern portion of the campus, adding the Lazear Chemistry Hall and purchasing McIlvane Hall.[28] When World War II broke out, the campus was opened to the Army Administration School, where hundreds of soldiers received their "training in classifications."[29] Hutchison resigned in 1945 to take the presidency of his alma mater, Lafayette College.[28] James Herbert Case, Jr., who was president from 1946 to 1950, constructed several new dormitories to handle the influx of veterans under the G.I. Bill.[30] In 1950, Boyd Crumrine Patterson assumed the presidency and oversaw curriculum revisions and the construction of a number of buildings, including the Henry Memorial Center, 10 Greek housing units in the center of campus, the U. Grant Miller Library, the Student Center, the Commons, and two new dormitories.[31] His fundraising abilities grew the college's endowment expanded from $2.3 million to nearly $11 million.[32] Patterson retired in 1970, the same year that the trustees authorized the admission of women as undergraduate students.[31] Howard J. Burnett took office as president that year and hired the college's first female faculty members and the first female dean.[33] The college also adopted a new academic calendar to include intersession and expanded its academic programs to include the Entrepreneurial Studies Program, the Freshman Forum, and several cooperative international education programs.[33] Student enrollment grew from 830 in 1970 to 1,100 in 1998.[33] Burnett retired as president in 1998.[33] Under Burnett's successor, Brian C. Mitchell, who served as president from 1998 to 2004, the college experienced a growth in construction and an effort to improve relations with the neighboring communities.[34] In 2004, Tori Haring-Smith became the first woman to serve as president of Washington & Jefferson, undertaking an effort to improve the science curriculum and to construct the Swanson Science Center.[35][36] After 13 years of service, Haring-Smith retired from her position on June 30, 2017. John C. Knapp was named Haring-Smith's successor on April 21, 2017, and became the College's 13th president on August 1, 2017.[37]


As a liberal arts college, Washington & Jefferson College focuses exclusively on undergraduate education.[38] It is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.[39] The college's teaching environment reflects the liberal arts tradition of small group instruction by maintaining an average class size of 17 and a student/faculty ratio of 12:1.[2][40] 85% of faculty have terminal degrees and no classes are taught by teaching assistants.[2][41] The college has a strong science program, with 35% of students majoring in one of the scientific departments.[42] Within those areas, all 32 professors hold terminal degrees.[42] The most frequent class size is between 10 and 19 students.[41]

The college has a focus on preparing students for graduate school and professional programs.[2] Across all disciplines, 85% to 90% of students who apply to such programs receive offers of admission.[43] Among students who apply to medical school or related health graduate programs, 90% of students gain admission.[42] Approximately 11% of all current W&J alumni are physicians and engineers, making the college third in the nation per capita for producing doctors and scientific researchers.[42][44][45] Among students who apply to law school, approximately 90% of students gain admission.[46]

The college recently added The English Language Institute which is a pre-academic program designed to equip multi-lingual learners with the English and academic skills to be prepared for undergraduate study.


The curriculum is centered on the traditional liberal arts education and pre-professional classes.[38] All first-semester freshmen must complete the "First Year Seminar" class, which introduces new students to a variety of lectures, concerts, plays, and trips to museums or galleries based on a different course theme selected each year.[47] In addition to completing an academic major, students must satisfy the college-wide general education requirements, which include classes in the arts, humanities, natural sciences and mathematics, foreign languages, cultural diversity, and academic skills classes including writing, oral communication, quantitative reasoning.[47] Students may choose to complete an academic minor, participate in interdepartmental concentrations, or to focus on an intra-departmental emphasis.[47][48] Additionally, all students must complete a physical education requirement, amounting to one full semester class, making W&J one of the few liberal arts colleges without a physical education major to have such a requirement.[49][50] The college maintains a number of combined degree programs, allowing students to attend graduate or professional school in lieu of senior year.[47]

The college follows the 4–1–4 academic calendar, which includes a four-month fall term, a three-week Intersession term in January, followed by a four-month spring term.[47] During the Intersession term, students have the choice of studying abroad, completing an external internship, or taking a specially-designed Intersession course.[47] These Intersession courses are more focused than regular courses and provide professors with an opportunity to teach non-traditional subjects.[47][51] Past Intersession courses have included "Emerging Diseases: Global and Local" in the biology department, "Corporate Failures, Frauds, and Scandals" in the business department, and "Vampires and Other Bloodsuckers" in the English department, "Holocaust Survivor Narratives" in the German department, and "Alternative Radio" in the communications department.[47][52][53] At various times, the faculty organizes an "Integrated Semester," where professors organize regular departmental courses, specialized projects, and public events dealing with a common interdisciplinary theme.[54] Students participating in more than two designed courses receive a transcript designation noting their participation in the program.[54] Past themes have included "Integrated Semester on Asia," "The Importance of Place," "Integrated Semester on the Spanish-Speaking World."[54][55][56] Students can also pursue international education through 30 pre-approved programs in over 20 countries.[47] While W&J has not had a Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program since 1991, the college has a relationship with the University of Pittsburgh's Army and Air Force ROTC programs, allowing W&J students to prepare for an active or reserve commission following graduation.[47][57] Members of the National Guard of the United States may take online classes to earn an associate's degree in Information Technology Leadership or a certificate in Information Management and Security.[58] Students may undertake externships to gain experiential learning experience in their chosen field.[59] The Franklin Internship Awards, established in 2006 by Ellis Hyman, provide upperclassmen with financial assistance to take an unpaid internship.[60] The college's Magellan Project is a series of programs that provide support and financing for research and independent study projects.[61] Past Magellan Projects have allowed students to study the Invasion of Normandy, Mexican transportation systems, and to volunteer at medical missions in the Dominican Republic.[62] In 2010, the Magellan Project received the Heiskell Award from the Institute of International Education in recognition of the college's progressive approach to study abroad.[63] In the 2010-2011 school year, 58% of W&J students studied abroad.[64]

Admission and rankings

Admission to Washington & Jefferson College is classified as "more selective" by both the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education and U.S. News & World Report.[38][65] The Princeton Review gave Washington & Jefferson an "Admissions Selectivity Rating" of 92.[66] The college extends offers of admission to 38.2% of all applicants.[65] Of all matriculating students, the average high school GPA is 3.34 and 38% are in the top 10% of their high school class.[66] The interquartile range for SAT scores in math and reasoning skills are 510–610 and 520–620, respectively.[66] In 2009, the college developed an SAT-optional admissions program.[67][68]

In the 2018 U.S. News & World Report college rankings, Washington & Jefferson is ranked #106 of all liberal arts colleges in the nation, placing it within "Tier 1."[65] In Forbes Magazine's List of America's Best Colleges for 2010, the college was ranked #100 out of the nation's institutions of higher education.[69] The Washington Monthly ranked the college #132 among all American liberal arts colleges in terms of social mobility, research, and community service.[70] The rankings listed the college as #30 in the nation in terms of Federal Work-Study Program money spent of community service.[70]

As president of the college, Tori Haring-Smith has specifically criticized the U.S. News & World Report rankings system, noting that the "financial resources" portion of the rankings formula favors colleges that have higher tuition, even without providing any educational benefits, saying that this has harmed the college's ranking because it charged $5,000 to $7,000 less in tuition that its peer institutions.[71] She also questioned the "peer assessment" portion of the rankings and suggested that college presidents are rarely aware of educational improvements in their peer institutions; she noted that Washington & Jefferson College's ranking has remained the same for a number of years, even while the college made significant improvements acceptance rates and overall selectivity, the addition of academic programs, and the construction of additional buildings.[71] Haring-Smith's criticism of the rankings spurred Bob Morse, the founder of the U.S. College Rankings system to respond to the criticisms directly in an article.[72] She has signed the "Presidents Letter," a nationwide movement asking fellow college presidents to decline participation in the U.S. News & World Report reputation survey, a subjective evaluation where college administrators score their competition.[73]

Student body

Demographics of student body[74][75]
Undergraduate Pennsylvania U.S. Census
African American 2.84% 11.20% 12.1%
Asian American 1.19% 2.46% 4.3%
White American 81.97% 86.83% 65.8%
Hispanic American 1.32% 4.19% 14.5%
Native American 0.46% 0.54% 0.9%
International student 2.05% N/A N/A
Unknown/unspecified 10.17% N/A N/A

As of 2010, the student body totaled 1,519 students.[65] The 2010 graduating class, which totaled 351 students, was the largest in the college's history.[76] The student body is highly residential, with 98% of students residing in campus housing.[38] The number of transfer students joining the student body each year is relatively low, compared to other institutions.[38][77] Approximately 18% of the student body receives federal Pell Grants.[70] Prior to entering college, 82% of the student body attended public high schools.[66] Roughly 86% of the each freshman class returns to the college for their sophomore year.[66] The overall graduation rate is 70%[70] About 25 to 30% of each incoming class is the first in their family to attend college.[78]

The male to female ratio is 54% to 46%.[79] Like the population of Pennsylvania and the United States as a whole, the largest ethnic group at the college is White American, making up about 82% of the student population.[74] Roughly 10% of the student population does not specify their ethnicity.[74] Other ethnicities, including African American, Asian American, Native American, and Hispanic Americans collectively comprise about 6% of the student body.[74] International students make up 2.05% of the student body.[74]

In 2006, Men's Fitness named W&J the "14th Fittest College in America," a ranking that weighed the college's fitness offerings and the student body's culture of fitness and behavior.[49][80][81] In 2009, the college was named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, in recognition of the student body's commitment to community service.[82][83] The college's spends 22% of its Federal Work-Study Program funds on community service projects.[70]

The college has joined the YES Prep School IMPACT Partnership Program to provide support to low-income students from the YES Prep Public Schools.[78][84]


McMillan Hall western front
McMillan Hall, built in 1793, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The campus of Washington & Jefferson College is located in the city of Washington and the East Washington Borough, small-town communities about 30 miles (48 km) south of Pittsburgh.[47][85] The 60-acre (24 ha) campus is home to more than 40 academic, administrative, recreational, and residential buildings.[47] The northern edge of campus is bound by East Walnut Street, the western edge by South College Street, the southern edge by East Maiden Street, and the eastern edge by South Wade.[86] Portions of the campus extend into the East Washington Historic District.[87] Four historic gates mark four traditional entrances to campus at East Maiden Street, Wheeling Street, South College Street, and Beau Street.[88] In 1947, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission installed a historical marker noting the historic importance of the college.[89]

The oldest surviving building is McMillan Hall, which dates to 1793 and is the oldest college building west of the Allegheny Mountains.[90] The main academic building is Old Main, which is topped with two prominent towers.[91] The Old Gym houses a modern exercise facility.[92] McIlvaine Hall, which was originally home to a female seminary, was demolished in 2008 and replaced by the Swanson Science Center.[93][94] Davis Memorial Hall was once a dormitory and private house.[95] The Thistle Physics Building, the Lazear Chemistry Hall, and the Dieter-Porter Life Sciences Building all cater to the scientific curriculum.[35] The Burnett Center and its sister building, the Technology Center, were built in the late 1990s and early 2000s.[96][97]

The first dormitory on campus was Hays Hall.[98] Wade House, Carriage House, and Whitworth House are Victorian homes housing older students.[99] The recently constructed Chestnut Street Housing complex provides housing for the college's Greek organizations.[100] The Presidents' Row is a cluster of ten buildings in the center of campus, several of which are dedicated to theme housing.[101] Two sister dormitories, New Residence Hall and Bica-Ross Hall, feature suite-style living arrangements.[102][103] Mellon Hall houses female freshman, and Upperclass Hall houses male freshmen.[104][105] Other dormitories include Alexander Hall, Beau Hall, Marshall Hall, North Hall, and Penn House.[106][107][108][109] The college administration utilizes several buildings, including the Admissions House, the Alumni House, and the President's House, which are all modified Victorian homes.[99] The U. Grant Miller Library is the modern library; its predecessor, Thompson Hall, is now used for administrative purposes.[110][111] The Hub, The Commons, and the Rossin Campus Center provide recreational and dining facilities for students.[112][113] The athletic and intramural teams utilize Cameron Stadium for football and track.[114] The Henry Memorial Center is used for basketball, wrestling, swimming, and volleyball.[115] Other athletic facilities include Brooks Park, Ross Memorial Park and Alexandre Stadium, and the Janet L. Swanson Tennis Courts.[116][117]



Cameron Stadium

W&J competes in 23 intercollegiate athletics at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III level. As of the 2009–10 academic year, the Presidents have won more than 108 Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) championships, 40 students were selected as conference Most Valuable Player, more than 300 athletes were awarded First Team All-Conference recognition, 75 received All-American honors, and 25 achieved Academic All-American status.[118] During the 2005–2006 season, 34 percent of the student body played varsity-level athletics.[49]

The football team has been very successful, winning 18 out of the last 21 PAC Championships and advancing to the NCAA Division III playoffs 17 times. W&J played to a 0–0 tie in the 1922 Rose Bowl against the California Golden Bears and were named to a share of the national championship by the Boand System. The men's ice hockey team won the 2008 College Hockey Mid America Conference championship, a Division I regional league of the American Collegiate Hockey Association.[119] W&J also fields teams in field hockey, wrestling, baseball, softball, and volleyball, as well as men's and women's cross country running, soccer, tennis, water polo, basketball, swimming and diving, golf, lacrosse, and track & field

W&J's baseball team plays at the all-turf Ross Memorial Ballpark, a site selected to host the 2015 and 2016 NCAA D-III regional tournament. Under the leadership of Coach Jeff Mountain, the Presidents have produced three All-Americans: Shaun Pfeill (3B, 2007); Sam Mann (P/1B; 2007) and Eddie Nogay (Pitcher; 2013). Nogay of Weirton, WV is the school's all-time wins leader with a career record of 28-2. Josh Staniscia of Franklin Regional H.S. is the school's all-time hits leader, with 251 career hits from 2011-2014. Frank Quirin (2008-2010) is the all-time home run leader with 22 career dingers.


The intramural sports program is one of the most consistently popular activities at Washington & Jefferson College, providing non-varsity and recreational athletic activities for all students, faculty, and staff of the College.[120][121] Vicki Staton, a former varsity women's basketball and volleyball coach, manages the intramural program.[122] In 2002, 60% of students participated in intramural sports.[123] In 2006, more than 40% of the student body participated in intramural athletics.[49] In 2007, the intramural activities included 3-on-3 basketball, billiards, bowling, flag football, kickball, tennis, ultimate frisbee, volleyball, wallyball, ping pong, and Texas hold 'em.[124] Intramural champions win a T-shirt celebrating their victory.[121]

While the varsity athletics program was struggling during the 1930s, intramural participation topped 84% of the student population.[125] During that time, the management of intramural activities was transferred to the athletic department, allowing the intramural program to use the College's varsity facilities.[121] In the 1930s and 1940s, groups of students competed for the "Big Cup," a trophy given to the most outstanding team, as judged by a cross-sport point system.[121]

Student life

Literary societies

W&J Contest 1893
Cover of the playbill for the 1893 Contest

The history of literary societies at Washington & Jefferson College dates back to the 1797, when the Franklin Literary Society and the Philo Literary Society were founded at Canonsburg Academy.[126] Two other literary societies were founded at Washington College, the Union Literary Society in 1809 and the Washington Literary Society in 1814.[126] Typical early activities include the presentation of dialogues, translations of passages from Greek or Latin classics, and extemporaneous speaking.[126] Later, the literary societies began to present declamations.[126] Each society maintained independent libraries for the use of their members, each of which rivaled the holdings of their respective colleges.[127] These four college literary societies had intense rivalries with each other, competing in "contests", which pitted select society members against another in "compositions, speaking select orations and debating", with the trustees selecting the victor.[126] Because the two colleges never met each other in athletic contests, these literary competitions were the main outlet for their rivalry.[128] In the years after the union of the two colleges, these four literary societies merged with the Franklin Literary Society, which survives today.[129]

Art scene

Washington & Jefferson College is home to a vibrant student art and musical scene. The artistic center of campus is the Olin Fine Arts Center, with an art gallery and a 486-seat auditorium.[130][131] On the academic side, the Department of Art offers majors in studio art and art education, as well as a concentration in graphic design.[132] The Department of Music offers majors and minors in music.[133] The Department of Theatre and Communications offers a major and minor in theatre.[134] Current musical organizations include the W&J Wind Ensemble, the W&J Jazz Ensemble, the W&J Choir and the Camerata Singers.[135] Former musical organizations include the Banjo, Mandolin & Guitar Club and the College Band.[136][137] Every year since 2003, the Theatre and Communication Department has produced the Winter Tales series, an annual production of one-act plays written by members of the W&J community, students, alumni, faculty, administration, and staff, and produced by the W&J Student Theater Company.[138][139]

In addition to student-produced art and music, the College provides a number of opportunities to view art and music from the larger art community. The College holds a collection of paintings by distinguished regional artist Malcolm Parcell, which are displayed in several locations on campus.[140] The most prominent location is the Malcom Parcell Room in The Commons, which is part of the student dining area.[140][141] The W&J Arts Series is an annual collection of musicians, singers, and other artistic performers appearing at the Olin Fine Arts Center.[142] Past shows have included Di Wu, Habib Koité, Chris Potter, The Aquila Theatre Company presenting The Invisible Man, Eroica Trio, Oni Buchanan, Tommy Sands, Cavani String Quartet, Sergio and Odar Assad, and Sandip Burman.[143][144][145][146][147] In 1999, billionaire W&J alum and well-known opera philanthropist Alberto Vilar sponsored the Vilar Distinguished Artist Series, which brought a number of world-class classical performers to perform at the Olin Fine Arts Center at no cost to students.[131][148][149] During its run, the Vilar Distinguished Artist Series hosted, among others, Lorin Maazel conducting the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, conductor Valery Gergiev conducting the Kirov Orchestra, Camerata Salzburg with Murray Periaha, St. Petersburg Classic Ballet, Vienna State Opera Ballet, Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra, Susan Graham, Jennifer Larmore, Samuel Ramey, Barbara Bonney, Katia and Marielle Labèque, Angelika Kirchschlager, Simon Keenlyside, Gil Shaham, and Jessye Norman.[145][148][150][151][152] In 2003, amid Vilar's falling fortunes during the stock market decreases in 2001 and 2002, the Vilar Distinguished Artist Series went on a temporary hiatus.[148] Vilar's 2005 indictment for financial fraud ended any possibility of reviving the arts series.[151] In Fall 2003, the W&J Arts Series, the college's other art series, was expanded to partially compensate for the loss.[149] The Student Government Association organizes the annual Fall Concert and Spring Concert, which bring popular musical acts to campus.[153] Past Spring and Fall concerts have included Cobra Starship, Girl Talk, N.E.R.D. New Found Glory, Saves the Day, and local favorite The Clarks.[154][155][156][157][158]

Greek life

Phi Kappa Sigma 1872 W&J College
Members of Phi Kappa Sigma pose for a chapter photo in the early 1870s.

With 43% of women and 40% of men of the student body participating in Greek life, fraternities and sororities play a significant role in student life at W&J.[159] The Princeton Review named Washington & Jefferson College 12th on their 2010 list of "Major Frat and Sorority Scene" in the United States.[160] As of 2010, the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life recognized 6 fraternities, Alpha Tau Omega, Beta Theta Pi, Delta Tau Delta, Phi Delta Theta, Phi Gamma Delta, and Phi Kappa Psi, and four sororities, Delta Gamma, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and Pi Beta Phi.[161] The fraternities are governed by a local Interfraternal Council[162] and the sororities are governed by a local Panhellenic Council,[163] while the Greek Judiciary manages broad policy violations at the chapter-level.[161] All Greek organizations occupy College-owned houses on Chestnut Street on campus.[164] All members of fraternities and sororities must pay the $100 "Greek Membership Fee", a levy designed to fund leadership seminars and other educational events for Greeks.[165][166]

Two national fraternities were founded at Jefferson College, Phi Gamma Delta in 1848 and Phi Kappa Psi in 1852.[167][168] Together, they are collectively known as the Jefferson Duo.[169][170] A third fraternity was founded at Jefferson College, Kappa Phi Lambda, but it dissolved after a decade of existence amid a dispute between chapters.[171] In 1874, a fourth fraternity was founded at W&J, the short-lived Phi Delta Kappa.[172] The new fraternity grew to several chapters before falling apart in 1880.[172]


Students may organize new clubs by presenting a constitution and a list of members to the college administration and the student government for approval.[173] This approval process does not authorize any club to act on behalf of the college, nor does approval indicate any the college's agreement with the club's purpose.[173]

The college recognizes over 70 student clubs on campus.[174] A number of student clubs are dedicated to encouraging interest is a specific academic discipline, including the "W&J Denominators" mathematics club, the Society of Physics Students, and the Pre-Health Professions Society.[174] Others are organized along ethnic and cultural lines, including the Black Student Union and the Asian Culture Association.[174] Both major American political parties have chapters at the college, in the form of the "W&J College Democrats" and the Young Republicans.[174] Some clubs take the form of non-varsity athletic teams, including the Men's Rugby Club, the Women's Rugby Club, the Equestrian Club, Men's Volleyball Club and the Ultimate Frisbee Club.[174] Several clubs create volunteer opportunities though Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the United Way.[174] Many religious faiths are represented, including the Hillel Society, Newman Club, and the Student Christian Association.[174] Many other clubs encourage interests in various academic and non-academic activities, including the Green Club (the College's environmental club), the Outdoors Club, and others which are mainly inactive like the Bottega Art Club, the Franklin Literary Society, and the Chess Club.[174]

Student media

Student media offerings at Washington & Jefferson College include a college newspaper, a college radio station, a yearbook, and a student-edited literary journal.[175] All students, regardless of academic major, are eligible to contribute to these media organizations.[174]

Founded in 1909, the Red & Black student newspaper has a weekly circulation of 1,250 copies.[176] The student staff handles all aspects of the production, including writing, editing, graphic design, layout, and advertising sales.[176] The Red & Black features local and national news, student opinion, and college athletics coverage.[176] During the 1860s, students published a satirical newspaper called The Bogus Tract.[177]

The college radio station, WNJR broadcasts on the FM broadcast band.[178] Assisted by a faculty advisor from the Department of Theater and Communication, the student-run studio broadcasts in a freeform format with both nationally syndicated programs and Pittsburgh-based independent programs.[178][179] Student on-air personalities produce radio programs including music, news, talk, and sports.[178] [178] It serves the Pittsburgh Designated Market Area, reaching north to the northern Pittsburgh suburbs, east to Monessen, south to Waynesburg and west to the West Virginia Panhandle.[180]

The Wooden Tooth Review is a student-edited literary journal, featuring short fiction and poetry submitted by members of the student body.[181][182] The editorial board is organized as a recognized student club, with a faculty advisor.[174][183] The journal was founded in 1999, with V. Penelope Pelizzon, Coordinator of Creative Writing, serving as the first faculty advisor.[184] The college's yearbook, Pandora, is produced annually by a student staff.[175][185]

Housing and student life facilities

The college offers "Theme Community Living," where students with common interests live in a single living unit.[186] Past themes have included the "Intensive Study," the "Service Leadership Community," the "International House," "Music House," the "WashPA Radio Theme Community" for students who participate in the WNJR college radio station, and the "Pet House".[187][188] Students proposing a theme community must develop an educational plan centered on the theme.[188]

The Pet House, which allows students to bring their pets to campus, has been located in Monroe Hall in Presidents' Row.[189] Not all types of pets are permitted, only permits students to bring cats, small dogs, small birds, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, and fish.[189] Further, students may only bring pets that they have owned for over one year and be over the age of one and one half, to avoid the problem of impulse purchases and abandonment of pets.[189][190] The college began the pet house program in 2006, and is one of a dozen schools nationwide to have such a program.[191] The Pet House has been profiled in The New York Times, the USA Today, Observer-Reporter, and KDKA.[191][192][193]

Several old Victorian houses, named Whitworth Hall and Wade Hall, are used as women's dorms and are slightly isolated from the other dormitories. Many students are also housed in the Greek houses on Chestnut Street, all of the Greek organizations on campus occupy houses owned by the college.

The college's dining services has made efforts to use locally grown foods.[194]

Traditions and lore

Pushball W&J
A game of pushball between the freshman and sophomore classes

One of the oldest traditions at Washington & Jefferson College was the "Freshman Rules," a system of rules and restrictions on freshmen.[121] Failure by freshmen to follow these rules would subject them to beatings by upperclassmen or other punishments doled out by the "Freshman Court."[121] During the 1870s and 1880s, the students engaged in organized athletic competitions, pitting the freshman versus sophomore classes in the "Olympic Games" that involved elaborate opening ceremonies and the smoking of a "Pipe of Peace."[195] Another form of physical contest between the freshman and sophomore classes were the annual "color rush," where the teams fought over control over strips of fabric, the "pole rush," where the teams battled to raise a flag up a flagpole, and the "cane rush" where the teams fought over control over a ceremonial cane.[121] These contests generally devolved into outright gang violence.[121]

The college cheer, Whichi Coax, is so pervasive in college history and culture that in addition to being shouted during academic ceremonies and football games, it is also used as a salutation in correspondence between alumni.[196][197] The college's fight song, "Good Ole W&J" is sung to the tune of "99 Bottles of Beer" and makes fun of a number of rival colleges, including the University of Pittsburgh, but was modified sometime before 1958 to laud Washington Female Seminary.[197] For a large portion of the college's history, there was no official alma mater, but there were a number of other tradition hymns and songs.[198]

Symbols of the college

Washjeff shield old
A deprecated graphic treatment for the college[199]

The college's coat of arms features a two-part shield based on the coats of arms of the Jefferson and Washington families.[200] The top portion, showing two towers, representing Washington College and Jefferson College, and three stars, representing the McMillan, Dod, and Smith log cabins.[200] The lower portion, showing a saltire, is adapted from Jefferson's coat of arms and the colors, red and black, is taken from the Washington coat of arms.[200][201] The coat of arms may appear with a banner underneath showing the college motto.[201] The design was adopted in 1902 in celebration of Jefferson College's centennial.[201] It was designed by Rev. Harry B. King, class of 1891.[201] Upon its adoption, it was described as "a happy combination, and makes a very neat appearance when worn as a pin or button."[200]

The college seal displays two brick towers, with one labeled "1802," representing Jefferson College, and the other labeled "1806," representing Washington College.[201] The union of the two colleges is represented by a bridge between the two towers, with Roman numerals reading 1865, the year of union.[201] Banners hanging from the towers show the college motto of "Juncta Juvant."[201] The creation of the seal is unknown, with the first known use occurring during the 1902 centennial celebration of Jefferson College's founding.[201] The seal is used in official documents, including diplomas and certificates.[202]

The college's current logo features a stylized version of the two towers of Old Main, symbolizing the 1865 unification of Washington College and Jefferson College.[199] The logo may be displayed in several versions: with the entire name of the college, the shortened form of "W&J", or without any text.[201] Prior to the adoption of this logo, the college's graphic identity consisted of a variety of conflicting logos and type styles.[199]

Relations with the city of Washington

Relations between the city of Washington, Pennsylvania and Washington & Jefferson College span over two centuries, dating to the founding of both the city and the college in the 1780s.[5][203] The relationship between the town and college was strong enough that the citizens of Washington offered a $50,000 donation in 1869 to the college in a successful attempt to lure the trustees to select Washington over nearby Canonsburg as the consolidated location of the college.[14] However, the relationship was strained through most of the 20th century, as the college pursued an expansion policy that clashed with the residential neighborhood.[204] The college's frustrations grew after preservationists unsuccessfully attempted to pass laws prohibiting the college from demolishing certain buildings that were listed on the East Washington Historic District.[87] Relations were so bad that residents and college officials engaged in a shouting match at a meeting.[205] Local preservationists also unsuccessfully tried to block the demolition of Hays Hall, which had been condemned.[206][207] In the 1990s, the city of Washington made several unsuccessful attempts to challenge the college's tax-exempt status. In 1993, Washington appealed the Washington County Board of Assessment's determination that the college was exempt from the city's property tax.[208] That case went to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the college.[208] In response, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed a new law clarifying that colleges were exempt from taxation, including from local property taxes.[209] Separately, the city of Washington passed an ordinance that levied a municipal "service fee" against the College students, which was ruled to be illegal and was struck down.[210] In the late 1990s, the college and town tried to mend fences through the Blueprint for Collaboration, a plan with detailed goals and benchmarks for the future to help the college and the city work together on economic development, environmental protection, and historic preservation.[211][212]

Notable alumni

As of 2009, Washington & Jefferson College had about 12,000 living alumni.[213] Before the union of the two colleges, Washington College graduated 872 men and Jefferson College graduated 1,936 men.[214][215] These alumni include James G. Blaine, who served in Congress as Speaker of the House, U.S. Senator from Maine, two-time United States Secretary of State and the Republican nominee for the 1884 presidential election.[214] Other graduates have held high federal positions, including United States Secretary of the Treasury Benjamin Bristow and United States Attorney General Henry Stanbery, who successfully defended Andrew Johnson during his impeachment trial.[215][216] As a U.S. Congressman, Clarence Long was a key figure in directing funds to Operation Cyclone, the CIA's effort to arm the mujahideen in the Soviet–Afghan War.[217] James A. Beaver served as Governor of Pennsylvania and as acting president of the Pennsylvania State University; he is the namesake of Beaver Stadium.[215][218] William Holmes McGuffey authored the McGuffey Readers, which are among the most popular and influential books in history.[219] Thaddeus Dod's student, Jacob Lindley, was the first president of Ohio University.[220] Astronaut and test pilot Joseph A. Walker became the first person to enter space twice.[221] Other graduates have gone on to success in professional athletics, including Buddy Jeannette, a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, and Pete Henry, a member of both the College and Pro Football Hall of Fame.[222][223][224] Roger Goodell has served as the Commissioner of the NFL since 2006.[225] Among graduates who entered the medical field, Jonathan Letterman is recognized as the "Father of Battlefield Medicine."[215] William Passavant is recognized as a saint within the Lutheran Church.[215] James McGready, who studied with Joseph Smith and John McMillan was a leading revivalist in the Second Great Awakening.[226] Successful graduates in the business realm include Richard Clark, President and CEO of Merck, John S. Reed, the former chairman of Citigroup and the New York Stock Exchange.[227][228]


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Coordinates: 40°10′17″N 80°14′21″W / 40.1714°N 80.2393°W

Booker T. Washington

Booker Taliaferro Washington (c. 1856 – November 14, 1915) was an American educator, author, orator, and advisor to presidents of the United States. Between 1890 and 1915, Washington was the dominant leader in the African American community.

Washington was from the last generation of black American leaders born into slavery and became the leading voice of the former slaves and their descendants. They were newly oppressed in the South by disenfranchisement and the Jim Crow discriminatory laws enacted in the post-Reconstruction Southern states in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Washington was a key proponent of African American businesses and one of the founders of the National Negro Business League. His base was the Tuskegee Institute, a historically black college in Tuskegee, Alabama. As lynchings in the South reached a peak in 1895, Washington gave a speech, known as the "Atlanta compromise", which brought him national fame. He called for black progress through education and entrepreneurship, rather than trying to challenge directly the Jim Crow segregation and the disenfranchisement of black voters in the South.

Washington mobilized a nationwide coalition of middle-class blacks, church leaders, and white philanthropists and politicians, with a long-term goal of building the community's economic strength and pride by a focus on self-help and schooling. But, secretly, he also supported court challenges to segregation and restrictions on voter registration.Black militants in the North, led by W. E. B. Du Bois, at first supported the Atlanta compromise, but later disagreed and opted to set up the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to work for political change. They tried with limited success to challenge Washington's political machine for leadership in the black community, but built wider networks among white allies in the North. Decades after Washington's death in 1915, the civil rights movement of the 1950s took a more active and militant approach, which was also based on new grassroots organizations based in the South, such as Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

Washington mastered the nuances of the political arena in the late 19th century, which enabled him to manipulate the media, raise money, develop strategy, network, push, reward friends, and distribute funds, while punishing those who opposed his plans for uplifting blacks. His long-term goal was to end the disenfranchisement of the vast majority of African Americans, who then still lived in the South.

Denzel Washington

Denzel Hayes Washington Jr. (born December 28, 1954) is an American actor, director, and producer. He has received two Golden Globe awards, one Tony Award, and two Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor for the historical war drama film Glory (1989) and Best Actor for his role as corrupt detective Alonzo Harris in the crime thriller Training Day (2001).Washington has received much critical acclaim for his film work since the 1980s, including his portrayals of real-life figures, such as South African anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko in Cry Freedom (1987), Muslim minister and human rights activist Malcolm X in Malcolm X (1992), boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter in The Hurricane (1999), football coach Herman Boone in Remember the Titans (2000), poet and educator Melvin B. Tolson in The Great Debaters (2007), and drug kingpin Frank Lucas in American Gangster (2007). He has been a featured actor in films produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and has been a frequent collaborator of directors Spike Lee, Antoine Fuqua, and Tony Scott. In 2016, he received the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award at the 73rd Golden Globe Awards.

In 2002, Washington made his directorial debut with the biographical film Antwone Fisher. His second directorial effort was The Great Debaters (2007). His third film, Fences (2016), in which he also starred, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass (born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey; c. February 1818 – February 20, 1895) was an American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. After escaping from slavery in Maryland, he became a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York, gaining note for his oratory and incisive antislavery writings. In his time, he was described by abolitionists as a living counter-example to slaveholders' arguments that slaves lacked the intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens. Northerners at the time found it hard to believe that such a great orator had once been a slave.Douglass wrote several autobiographies. He described his experiences as a slave in his 1845 autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, which became a bestseller, and was influential in promoting the cause of abolition, as was his second book, My Bondage and My Freedom (1855). After the Civil War, Douglass remained an active campaigner against slavery and wrote his last autobiography, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass. First published in 1881 and revised in 1892, three years before his death, it covered events during and after the Civil War. Douglass also actively supported women's suffrage, and held several public offices. Without his approval, Douglass became the first African American nominated for Vice President of the United States as the running mate and Vice Presidential nominee of Victoria Woodhull, on the Equal Rights Party ticket.Douglass was a firm believer in the equality of all peoples, whether black, female, Native American, or recent immigrant. He was also a believer in dialogue and in making alliances across racial and ideological divides, and in the liberal values of the U.S. Constitution. When radical abolitionists, under the motto "No Union with Slaveholders", criticized Douglass' willingness to engage in dialogue with slave owners, he famously replied: "I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong."

George Washington

George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799) was an American political leader, military general, statesman, and Founding Father who also served as the first president of the United States from 1789 to 1797. He led Patriot forces to victory in the nation's War of Independence, and he presided at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 which established the new federal government. He has been called the "Father of His Country" for his manifold leadership in the formative days of the new nation.

Washington received his initial military training and command with the Virginia Regiment during the French and Indian War. He was later elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses and was named a delegate to the Continental Congress, where he was appointed Commanding General of the nation’s Continental Army. He successfully led the allied American and French forces against Britain in the Revolutionary War which ended with the Siege of Yorktown. Once victory was in hand in 1783, he resigned as commander-in-chief.

Washington played a key role in the adoption and ratification of the Constitution and was then elected president by the Electoral College in the first two elections. He implemented a strong, well-financed national government while remaining impartial in a fierce rivalry between cabinet members Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. During the French Revolution, he proclaimed a policy of neutrality while sanctioning the Jay Treaty. He set enduring precedents for the office of president, including the title "President of the United States", and his Farewell Address is widely regarded as a pre-eminent statement on republicanism.

Washington owned and traded African slaves, but he became troubled with the institution of slavery and freed them in his 1799 will. He was a member of the Anglican Church and the Freemasons, and he urged tolerance for all religions in his roles as general and president. Upon his death, he was eulogized as "first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen." He has been memorialized by monuments, art, geographical locations, stamps, and currency, and many scholars and polls rank him among the top American presidents.

George Washington University

The George Washington University (GW, GWU, or George Washington) is a private research university in Washington, D.C. It was chartered in 1821 by an act of the United States Congress.

The university is organized into 14 colleges and schools, including the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, the Elliott School of International Affairs, the GW School of Business, the School of Media and Public Affairs, the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, the GW Law School and the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design. George Washington's main Foggy Bottom Campus is located in the heart of Washington, D.C., with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank located on campus and the White House and the U.S. Department of State within blocks of campus. GWU hosts numerous research centers and institutes, including the National Security Archive and the Institute for International Economic Policy. GWU has two satellite campuses: the Mount Vernon Campus, located in D.C.'s Foxhall neighborhood and the Virginia Science and Technology Campus in the Washington Metropolitan Area. It is the largest institution of higher education in the District of Columbia. George Washington offers degree programs in seventy-one disciplines, enrolling an average of 11,000 undergraduate and 15,500 post-graduate students from more than 130 countries.George Washington, the first President of the United States, advocated the establishment of a national university in the U.S. capital in his first State of the Union address in 1790 and continued to promote this idea throughout his career and until his death. In his will, Washington left shares in the Potomac Company to endow the university. However, due to the company's financial difficulties, funds were raised independently. On 9 February 1821, the university was founded by an Act of Congress, making it one of only five universities in the United States with a Congressional charter.George Washington was ranked 63rd nationally by U.S. News & World Report'. The Princeton Review ranked GWU 1st for Top Colleges or Universities for Internship Opportunities. As of 2015, George Washington had over 1,100 active alumni in the U.S. Foreign Service, the nation's diplomatic corps. GWU is consistently ranked by The Princeton Review in the top "Most Politically Active" Schools.

George Washington is home to extensive student life programs, as well as a strong Greek culture, and over 450 other student organizations. The school's athletic teams, the George Washington Colonials, play in the Atlantic 10 Conference.

George Washington alumni, faculty and affiliates include numerous prominent politicians, U.S. military officials including the current U.S. Attorney General, four living former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, CEOs of major corporations, scientists, Nobel laureates, MacArthur fellows, Olympic athletes, Academy Award and Golden Globe winners, royalty, and Time 100 notables.

Jeff Bezos

Jeffrey Preston Bezos (; born January 12, 1964) is an American technology entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist. He is the founder, chairman, CEO, and president of Amazon.

Bezos was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and raised in Houston, Texas. He graduated from Princeton University in 1986 with degrees in electrical engineering and computer science. He worked on Wall Street in a variety of related fields from 1986 to early 1994. He founded Amazon in late 1994 on a cross-country road trip from New York City to Seattle. The company began as an online bookstore and has expanded to a variety of products and services, including video and audio streaming. It is currently the world's largest online sales company, as well as the world's largest provider of cloud infrastructure services via its Amazon Web Services arm.

Bezos added to his business interests when he founded aerospace company Blue Origin in 2000. A Blue Origin test flight successfully first reached space in 2015, and Blue has plans to begin commercial suborbital human spaceflight in 2019. He purchased The Washington Post in 2013 for US$250 million in cash. Bezos manages other business investments through his venture capital fund, Bezos Expeditions.

On July 27, 2017, he became the world's wealthiest person when his estimated net worth increased to just over $90 billion. Bezos's wealth surpassed $100 billion for the first time on November 24, 2017, and he was formally designated the wealthiest person in the world by Forbes on March 6, 2018, with a net worth of $112 billion. The first centi-billionaire on the Forbes wealth index, he was named the "richest man in modern history" after his net worth increased to $150 billion in July 2018.

Kurt Cobain

Kurt Donald Cobain (February 20, 1967 – April 5, 1994) was an American singer, songwriter, and musician, best known as the guitarist and frontman of the rock band Nirvana. Cobain is remembered as one of the most iconic and influential rock musicians in the history of alternative music.

Born in Aberdeen, Washington, Cobain formed the band Nirvana with Krist Novoselic and Aaron Burckhard in 1987 and established it as part of the Seattle music scene which later became known as grunge. After signing with major label DGC Records, Nirvana found success with "Smells Like Teen Spirit" from their second album Nevermind (1991). Following the success of Nevermind, Nirvana was labelled "the flagship band" of Generation X, and Cobain was hailed as "the spokesman of a generation"; however, Cobain resented this, believing his message and artistic vision had been misinterpreted by the public, with his personal problems often subject to media attention.During the last years of his life, Cobain struggled with heroin addiction and chronic health problems such as depression. He also struggled with the personal and professional pressures of fame, and his marriage to musician Courtney Love. On April 8, 1994, Cobain was found dead at his home in Seattle by an electrician who had come to install a home security system; it was concluded Cobain died on April 5 at the age of 27 from a self-inflicted shotgun wound to his head.Cobain has been described as a "Generation X icon". He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with Nirvana bandmates Dave Grohl and Novoselic, in their first year of eligibility in 2014. In 2003, David Fricke of Rolling Stone ranked him the 12th greatest guitarist of all time. He was ranked 7th by MTV in the "22 Greatest Voices in Music". In 2006, he was placed 20th by Hit Parader on their list of the "100 Greatest Metal Singers of All Time".

Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is centered around a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills in Keystone, South Dakota. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum created the sculpture's design and oversaw the project's execution from 1927 to 1941 with the help of his son Lincoln Borglum. The sculpture features the 60-foot (18 m) heads of Presidents George Washington (1732–1799), Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919), and Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865). The four presidents were chosen, respectively, to represent the birth, the growth, the development, and the preservation of the United States. The memorial park covers 1,278.45 acres (2.00 sq mi; 5.17 km2) and is 5,725 feet (1,745 m) above sea level.South Dakota historian Doane Robinson is credited with conceiving the idea of carving the likenesses of famous people into the Black Hills region of South Dakota in order to promote tourism in the region. His initial idea was to sculpt the Needles; however, Gutzon Borglum rejected the Needles because of the poor quality of the granite and strong opposition from Native American groups. They settled on Mount Rushmore, which also has the advantage of facing southeast for maximum sun exposure. Robinson wanted it to feature American West heroes such as Lewis and Clark, Red Cloud, and Buffalo Bill Cody, but Borglum decided that the sculpture should have broader appeal and chose the four presidents.

US Senator for South Dakota Peter Norbeck sponsored the project and secured federal funding; construction began in 1927, and the presidents' faces were completed between 1934 and 1939. Gutzon Borglum died in March 1941, and his son Lincoln took over as leader of the construction project. Each president was originally to be depicted from head to waist, but lack of funding forced construction to end on October 31, 1941.Mount Rushmore attracts more than two million visitors annually.

Pacific Time Zone

The Pacific Time Zone (PT) is a time zone encompassing parts of western Canada, the western United States, and western Mexico. Places in this zone observe standard time by subtracting eight hours from Coordinated Universal Time (UTC−08:00). During daylight saving time, a time offset of UTC−07:00 is used.

In the United States and Canada, this time zone is generically called the "Pacific Time Zone". Specifically, time in this zone is referred to as "Pacific Standard Time" (PST) when standard time is being observed (early November to mid-March), and "Pacific Daylight Time" (PDT) when daylight saving time (mid-March to early November) is being observed. In Mexico, the corresponding time zone is known as the Zona Noroeste (Northwest Zone) and observes the same daylight saving schedule as the U.S. and Canada. The largest city in the Pacific Time Zone is Los Angeles.

The zone is two hours ahead of the Hawaii–Aleutian Time Zone, one hour ahead of the Alaska Time Zone, one hour behind the Mountain Time Zone, two hours behind the Central Time Zone, three hours behind the Eastern Time Zone, and four hours behind the Atlantic Time Zone.

Purple Heart

The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the president to those wounded or killed while serving, on or after April 5, 1917, with the U.S. military. With its forerunner, the Badge of Military Merit, which took the form of a heart made of purple cloth, the Purple Heart is the oldest military award still given to U.S. military members – the only earlier award being the obsolete Fidelity Medallion. The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is located in New Windsor, New York.


Seattle ( (listen) see-AT-əl) is a seaport city on the West Coast of the United States. It is the seat of King County, Washington. With an estimated 730,000 residents as of 2018, Seattle is the largest city in both the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest region of North America. According to U.S. Census data released in 2018, the Seattle metropolitan area’s population stands at 3.87 million, and ranks as the 15th largest in the United States. In July 2013, it was the fastest-growing major city in the United States and remained in the Top 5 in May 2015 with an annual growth rate of 2.1%. In July 2016, Seattle was again the fastest-growing major U.S. city, with a 3.1% annual growth rate. Seattle is the northernmost large city in the United States.

The city is situated on an isthmus between Puget Sound (an inlet of the Pacific Ocean) and Lake Washington, about 100 miles (160 km) south of the Canada–United States border. A major gateway for trade with Asia, Seattle is the fourth-largest port in North America in terms of container handling as of 2015.The Seattle area was inhabited by Native Americans for at least 4,000 years before the first permanent European settlers. Arthur A. Denny and his group of travelers, subsequently known as the Denny Party, arrived from Illinois via Portland, Oregon, on the schooner Exact at Alki Point on November 13, 1851. The settlement was moved to the eastern shore of Elliott Bay and named "Seattle" in 1852, in honor of Chief Si'ahl of the local Duwamish and Suquamish tribes. Today, Seattle has high populations of Native, Scandinavian, African, and Asian Americans, as well as a thriving LGBT community that ranks 6th in the United States for population.Logging was Seattle's first major industry, but by the late 19th century, the city had become a commercial and shipbuilding center as a gateway to Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush. Growth after World War II was partially due to the local Boeing company, which established Seattle as a center for aircraft manufacturing. The Seattle area developed into a technology center from the 1980s onwards with companies like Microsoft becoming established in the region; Microsoft founder Bill Gates is a Seattleite by birth. Internet retailer Amazon was founded in Seattle in 1994, and major airline Alaska Airlines was founded in SeaTac, Washington, serving Seattle's international airport, Seattle–Tacoma International Airport. The stream of new software, biotechnology, and Internet companies led to an economic revival, which increased the city's population by almost 50,000 between 1990 and 2000. Owing largely to its rapidly increasing population in the 21st century, Seattle and the state of Washington have some of the highest minimum wages in the country, at $15 per hour for smaller businesses and $16 for the city's largest employers.Seattle has a noteworthy musical history. From 1918 to 1951, nearly two dozen jazz nightclubs existed along Jackson Street, from the current Chinatown/International District to the Central District. The jazz scene nurtured the early careers of Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Ernestine Anderson, and others. Seattle is also the birthplace of rock musician Jimi Hendrix, as well as the origin of the bands Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Foo Fighters and the alternative rock movement grunge.

Spokane, Washington

Spokane ( (listen) spoh-KAN) is a city in Spokane County in the state of Washington in the northwestern United States. It is located on the Spokane River west of the Rocky Mountain foothills in eastern Washington, 92 miles (148 km) south of the Canada–US border, 18 miles (30 km) from the Washington–Idaho border, and 228 miles (367 km) east of Seattle along Interstate 90.

Known as the birthplace of Father's Day, Spokane's official nickname is the "Lilac City". A pink, double flower lilac variety known as 'Syringa Spokane' is named for the city. It is the seat of Spokane County and the economic and cultural center of the Spokane Metropolitan Area, the Spokane–Coeur d'Alene combined statistical area, and the Inland Northwest. The city, along with the whole Inland Northwest, is served by Spokane International Airport, 5 miles (8 km) west of downtown Spokane. According to the 2010 Census, Spokane had a population of 208,916, making it the second-largest city in Washington, and the 101st-largest city in the United States.

The first people to live in the area, the Spokane tribe (their name meaning "children of the sun" in Salishan), lived off plentiful game. David Thompson explored the area with the westward expansion and establishment of the North West Company's Spokane House in 1810. This trading post was the first long-term European settlement in Washington. Completion of the Northern Pacific Railway in 1881 brought settlers to the Spokane area. The same year it was officially incorporated as a city with the name of Spokane Falls (it was reincorporated under its current name ten years later). In the late 19th century, gold and silver were discovered in the Inland Northwest. The local economy depended on mining, timber, and agriculture until the 1980s. Spokane hosted the first environmentally themed World's Fair at Expo '74.

Many of the downtown area's older Romanesque Revival-style buildings were designed by architect Kirtland Kelsey Cutter after the Great Fire of 1889. The city also features Riverfront and Manito parks, the Smithsonian-affiliated Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, the Davenport Hotel, and the Fox and Bing Crosby theaters.

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Spokane, and the city is also the center of the Mormon Spokane Washington Temple District. The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist represents the Anglican community. Gonzaga University was established in 1887 by the Jesuits, and the private Presbyterian Whitworth University was founded three years later and moved to north Spokane in 1914 In sports, the Gonzaga Bulldogs collegiate basketball team competes at the Division I level. Professional and semi-professional sports teams include the Spokane Indians in Minor League Baseball and Spokane Chiefs in junior ice hockey. As of 2010, Spokane's only major daily newspaper, The Spokesman-Review, had a daily circulation of over 76,000.

The Washington Post

The Washington Post (sometimes abbreviated as WaPo) is a major American daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C., with a particular emphasis on national politics and the federal government. It has the largest circulation in the Washington metropolitan area. Its slogan "Democracy Dies in Darkness" began appearing on its masthead in 2017. Daily broadsheet editions are printed for the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia.

The newspaper has won 47 Pulitzer Prizes. This includes six separate Pulitzers awarded in 2008, second only to The New York Times' seven awards in 2002 for the highest number ever awarded to a single newspaper in one year. Post journalists have also received 18 Nieman Fellowships and 368 White House News Photographers Association awards. In the early 1970s, in the best-known episode in the newspaper's history, reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein led the American press' investigation into what became known as the Watergate scandal. Their reporting in The Washington Post greatly contributed to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. In years since, the Post's investigations have led to increased review of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.In October 2013, the paper's longtime controlling family, the Graham family, sold the newspaper to Nash Holdings, a holding company established by Jeff Bezos, for $250 million in cash.

University of Washington

The University of Washington (commonly referred to as UW, simply Washington, or informally U-Dub) is a public research university in Seattle, Washington.

Founded in 1861, Washington was first established in downtown Seattle approximately a decade after the city's founding to aid its economic development. Today, the university's 703-acre main Seattle campus is situated in the University District above the Montlake Cut, within the urban Puget Sound region of the Pacific Northwest. The university has two additional campuses in Tacoma and Bothell. Overall, UW encompasses over 500 buildings and over 20 million gross square footage of space, including one of the largest library systems in the world with over 26 university libraries, as well as the UW Tower, lecture halls, art centers, museums, laboratories, stadiums, and conference centers. The university offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees through 140 departments in various colleges and schools, sees about 46,000 in total student enrollment every year, and functions on a quarter system.

Washington is a member of the Association of American Universities and classified as an R1 Doctoral Research University classification under the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. It is cited as a leading university in the world for scientific performance and research output by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and the CWTS Leiden Ranking. In the 2015 fiscal year, the UW received nearly $1.2 billion in research funding, the 3rd largest among all universities in the United States. As the flagship institution of the six public universities in Washington State, it is known for its research in medicine, science, as well as its highly-competitive computer science and engineering programs. Additionally, Washington continues to benefit from its deep historical ties and major collaborations with numerous technology giants in the region, such as Amazon, Boeing, Nintendo, and particularly Microsoft. Paul G. Allen, Bill Gates and others spent significant times at Washington computer labs for prior venture before founding Microsoft. Its 22 varsity sports teams are also highly competitive, competing as the Huskies in the Pac-12 Conference of the NCAA Division I, representing the United States at the Olympic Games, and other major competitions.The University has been affiliated with many notable alumni and faculty, including 20 Nobel Prize laureates and numerous Pulitzer Prize winners, Fulbright Scholars, Rhodes Scholars, Marshall Scholars, as well as members of other distinguished institutions.

Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or D.C., is the capital of the United States. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, first President of the United States and Founding Father. As the seat of the United States federal government and several international organizations, Washington is an important world political capital. The city is also one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million tourists annually.The signing of the Residence Act on July 16, 1790, approved the creation of a capital district located along the Potomac River on the country's East Coast. The U.S. Constitution provided for a federal district under the exclusive jurisdiction of the U.S. Congress, and the District is therefore not a part of any state. The states of Maryland and Virginia each donated land to form the federal district, which included the pre-existing settlements of Georgetown and Alexandria. The City of Washington was founded in 1791 to serve as the new national capital. In 1846, Congress returned the land originally ceded by Virginia; in 1871, it created a single municipal government for the remaining portion of the District.

Washington had an estimated population of 702,455 as of July 2018, making it the 20th most populous city in the United States. Commuters from the surrounding Maryland and Virginia suburbs raise the city's daytime population to more than one million during the workweek. Washington's metropolitan area, the country's sixth largest, had a 2017 estimated population of 6.2 million residents.All three branches of the U.S. federal government are centered in the District: Congress (legislative), president (executive), and the U.S. Supreme Court (judicial). Washington is home to many national monuments, and museums, primarily situated on or around the National Mall. The city hosts 177 foreign embassies as well as the headquarters of many international organizations, trade unions, non-profit, lobbying groups, and professional associations, including the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization of American States, AARP, the National Geographic Society, the Human Rights Campaign, the International Finance Corporation, and the American Red Cross.

A locally elected mayor and a 13‑member council have governed the District since 1973. However, Congress maintains supreme authority over the city and may overturn local laws. D.C. residents elect a non-voting, at-large congressional delegate to the House of Representatives, but the District has no representation in the Senate. The District receives three electoral votes in presidential elections as permitted by the Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution, ratified in 1961.

Washington (state)

Washington ( (listen)), officially the State of Washington, is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Named for George Washington, the first president of the United States, the state was made out of the western part of the Washington Territory, which was ceded by Britain in 1846 in accordance with the Oregon Treaty in the settlement of the Oregon boundary dispute. It was admitted to the Union as the 42nd state in 1889. Olympia is the state capital; the state's largest city is Seattle. Washington is sometimes referred to as Washington State, to distinguish it from Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States, which is often shortened to Washington.

Washington is the 18th largest state, with an area of 71,362 square miles (184,827 km2), and the 13th most populous state, with more than 7.4 million people. Approximately 60 percent of Washington's residents live in the Seattle metropolitan area, the center of transportation, business, and industry along Puget Sound, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean consisting of numerous islands, deep fjords, and bays carved out by glaciers. The remainder of the state consists of: deep temperate rainforests in the west; mountain ranges in the west, central, northeast, and far southeast; and a semi-arid basin region in the east, central, and south, given over to intensive agriculture. Washington is the second most populous state on the West Coast and in the Western United States, after California. Mount Rainier, an active stratovolcano, is the state's highest elevation, at almost 14,411 feet (4,392 meters), and is the most topographically prominent mountain in the contiguous United States.

Washington is a leading lumber producer. Its rugged surface is rich in stands of Douglas fir, hemlock, ponderosa pine, white pine, spruce, larch, and cedar. The state is the biggest producer of apples, hops, pears, red raspberries, spearmint oil, and sweet cherries, and ranks high in the production of apricots, asparagus, dry edible peas, grapes, lentils, peppermint oil, and potatoes. Livestock and livestock products make important contributions to total farm revenue, and the commercial fishing of salmon, halibut, and bottomfish makes a significant contribution to the state's economy. Washington ranks second only to California in the production of wine.

Manufacturing industries in Washington include aircraft and missiles, ship-building, and other transportation equipment, lumber, food processing, metals and metal products, chemicals, and machinery. Washington has over 1,000 dams, including the Grand Coulee Dam, built for a variety of purposes, including irrigation, power, flood control, and water storage.

Washington is one of the wealthiest and most liberally progressive states in the country. The state consistently ranks among the best for life expectancy and low unemployment. Along with Colorado, Washington was one of the first to legalize medicinal and recreational cannabis, was among the first thirty-six states to legalize same-sex marriage, doing so in 2012, and was one of only four U.S. states to have been providing legal abortions on request before the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade loosened federal abortion laws. Similarly, Washington voters approved a 2008 referendum on legalization of physician-assisted suicide, and is currently only one of five states, along with Oregon, California, Colorado and Vermont, as well as the District of Columbia to have legalized the practice. The state is also one of eight in the country to have criminalized the sale, possession and transfer of bump stocks, with California, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Maryland, and Massachusetts also having banned these devices.

Washington Monument

The Washington Monument is an obelisk on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., built to commemorate George Washington, once commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and the first President of the United States. Located almost due east of the Reflecting Pool and the Lincoln Memorial, the monument, made of marble, granite, and bluestone gneiss, is both the world's tallest predominantly stone structure and the world's tallest obelisk, standing 554 feet 7 11⁄32 inches (169.046 m) tall according to the National Geodetic Survey (measured 2013–14) or 555 feet 5 1⁄8 inches (169.294 m) tall according to the National Park Service (measured 1884). It is the tallest monumental column in the world if all are measured above their pedestrian entrances. It was the tallest structure in the world from 1884 to 1889, when it was overtaken by the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Construction of the monument began in 1848 and was halted from 1854 to 1877 due to a lack of funds, a struggle for control over the Washington National Monument Society, and the intervention of the American Civil War. Although the stone structure was completed in 1884, internal ironwork, the knoll, and other finishing touches were not completed until 1888. A difference in shading of the marble, visible approximately 150 feet (46 m) or 27% up, shows where construction was halted and later resumed with marble from a different source. The original design was by Robert Mills, but he did not include his proposed colonnade due to a lack of funds, proceeding only with a bare obelisk. The cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1848; the first stone was laid atop the unfinished stump on August 7, 1880; the capstone was set on December 6, 1884; the completed monument was dedicated on February 21, 1885; and officially opened October 9, 1888.

The Washington Monument is a hollow Egyptian style stone obelisk with a 500-foot (152.4 m) tall column and a 55-foot (16.8 m) tall pyramidion. Its walls are 15 feet (4.6 m) thick at its base and 1 1⁄2 feet (0.46 m) thick at their top. The marble pyramidion has thin walls only 7 inches (18 cm) thick supported by six arches, two between opposite walls that cross at the center of the pyramidion and four smaller corner arches. The top of the pyramidion is a large marble capstone with a small aluminum pyramid at its apex with inscriptions on all four sides. The lowest 150 feet (45.7 m) of the walls, constructed during the first phase 1848–1854, are composed of a pile of bluestone gneiss rubble stones (not finished stones) held together by a large amount of mortar with a facade of semi-finished marble stones about 1 1⁄4 feet (0.4 m) thick. The upper 350 feet (106.7 m) of the walls, constructed during the second phase 1880–1884, are composed of finished marble surface stones, half of which project into the walls, partially backed by finished granite stones.The interior is occupied by iron stairs that spiral up the walls, with an elevator in the center, each supported by four iron columns, which do not support the stone structure. The stairs contain fifty sections, most on the north and south walls, with many long landings stretching between them along the east and west walls. These landings allowed many inscribed memorial stones of various materials and sizes to be easily viewed while the stairs were accessible (until 1976), plus one memorial stone between stairs that is difficult to view. The pyramidion has eight observation windows, two per side, and eight red aircraft warning lights, two per side. Two aluminum lightning rods connected via the elevator support columns to ground water protect the monument. The monument's present foundation is 37 feet (11.3 m) thick, consisting of half of its original bluestone gneiss rubble encased in concrete. At the northeast corner of the foundation, 21 feet (6.4 m) below ground, is the marble cornerstone, including a zinc case filled with memorabilia. Fifty American flags fly 24 hours a day on a large circle of flag poles centered on the monument. In 2001, a temporary screening facility was added to the entrance to prevent a terrorist attack. In 2011, an earthquake slightly damaged the monument, mostly the pyramidion.

Washington Redskins

The Washington Redskins are a professional American football team based in the Washington metropolitan area. The Redskins compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member of the National Football Conference (NFC) East division. The team plays its home games at FedExField in Landover, Maryland; its headquarters and training facility are at Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Virginia and the Redskins Complex in Richmond, Virginia, respectively.

The Redskins have played more than one thousand games since their founding 87 years ago in 1932, and are one of only five franchises in the NFL to record over six hundred regular season and postseason wins, reaching that mark in 2015. The Redskins have won five NFL Championships (the latter three in Super Bowls), and have captured fourteen divisional titles and six conference championships. It was the first NFL franchise with an official marching band and the first with a fight song, Hail to the Redskins.The team began play in Boston as the Braves in 1932, and became the "Redskins" the following year. In 1937, the team relocated to Washington, D.C. The Redskins won the 1937 and 1942 NFL championship games, as well as Super Bowls XVII, XXII, and XXVI. They have been league runner-up six times, losing the 1936, 1940, 1943, and 1945 title games, and Super Bowls VII and XVIII. With 24 postseason appearances, the Redskins have an overall postseason record of 23–18. Their three Super Bowl wins are tied with the Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos, behind the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots (six each), San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys (five each), and the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants (four each).All of the Redskins' league titles were attained during two 10-year spans. From 1936 to 1945, the Redskins went to the NFL Championship six times, winning two of them. The second period lasted between 1982 and 1991 where the Redskins appeared in the postseason seven times, captured four Conference titles, and won three Super Bowls out of four appearances. The Redskins have also experienced failure in their history. The most notable period of general failure was from 1946 to 1970, during which the Redskins posted only four winning seasons and did not have a single postseason appearance. During this period, the Redskins went without a single winning season during the years 1956–1968. In 1961, the franchise posted their worst regular season record with a 1–12–1 showing. Since their last Super Bowl victory following the end of the 1991 season, the Redskins have only won the NFC East three times, made five postseason appearances, and had nine seasons with a winning record.

According to Forbes, the Redskins are the fourth most valuable franchise in the NFL and the tenth most valuable overall in the world as of 2018, valued at approximately US$3.1 billion. They also set the NFL record for single-season attendance in 2007, and have the top ten single-season attendance totals in the NFL. Over the team's history, the name and logo have drawn controversy, with many criticizing it as offensive to Native Americans.

Washington University in St. Louis

Washington University in St. Louis (also referred to as WashU, or WUSTL) is a private research university located in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Founded in 1853, and named after George Washington, the university has students and faculty from all 50 U.S. states and more than 120 countries. As of 2017, 24 Nobel laureates in economics, physiology and medicine, chemistry, and physics have been affiliated with Washington University, nine having done the major part of their pioneering research at the university. Washington University's undergraduate program is ranked 19th by U.S. News & World Report in 2018 and 11th by The Wall Street Journal in their 2018 rankings. The university is ranked 20th in the world in 2018 by the Academic Ranking of World Universities. The acceptance rate for the class of 2022 (those entering in the fall of 2018) was 15%, with students selected from more than 31,000 applications. Of students admitted 81 percent were in the top 10 percent of their class.

Washington University is made up of seven graduate and undergraduate schools that encompass a broad range of academic fields. To prevent confusion over its location, the Board of Trustees added the phrase "in St. Louis" in 1976.

White House

The White House is the official residence and workplace of the President of the United States. It is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C. and has been the residence of every U.S. President since John Adams in 1800. The term "White House" is often used as a metonym for the president and his advisers.

The residence was designed by Irish-born architect James Hoban in the neoclassical style. Hoban modelled the building on Leinster House in Dublin, a building which today houses the Oireachtas, the Irish legislature. Construction took place between 1792 and 1800 using Aquia Creek sandstone painted white. When Thomas Jefferson moved into the house in 1801, he (with architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe) added low colonnades on each wing that concealed stables and storage. In 1814, during the War of 1812, the mansion was set ablaze by the British Army in the Burning of Washington, destroying the interior and charring much of the exterior. Reconstruction began almost immediately, and President James Monroe moved into the partially reconstructed Executive Residence in October 1817. Exterior construction continued with the addition of the semi-circular South portico in 1824 and the North portico in 1829.

Because of crowding within the executive mansion itself, President Theodore Roosevelt had all work offices relocated to the newly constructed West Wing in 1901. Eight years later in 1909, President William Howard Taft expanded the West Wing and created the first Oval Office, which was eventually moved as the section was expanded. In the main mansion, the third-floor attic was converted to living quarters in 1927 by augmenting the existing hip roof with long shed dormers. A newly constructed East Wing was used as a reception area for social events; Jefferson's colonnades connected the new wings. East Wing alterations were completed in 1946, creating additional office space. By 1948, the residence's load-bearing exterior walls and internal wood beams were found to be close to failure. Under Harry S. Truman, the interior rooms were completely dismantled and a new internal load-bearing steel frame constructed inside the walls. Once this work was completed, the interior rooms were rebuilt.

The modern-day White House complex includes the Executive Residence, West Wing, East Wing, the Eisenhower Executive Office Building—the former State Department, which now houses offices for the President's staff and the Vice President—and Blair House, a guest residence. The Executive Residence is made up of six stories—the Ground Floor, State Floor, Second Floor, and Third Floor, as well as a two-story basement. The property is a National Heritage Site owned by the National Park Service and is part of the President's Park. In 2007, it was ranked second on the American Institute of Architects list of "America's Favorite Architecture".

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