The White House Trivia Quiz

The White House Press Briefing Room: Built Over Former Indoor Pool

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Welcome, history enthusiasts and trivia buffs! Today, we’re uncovering the secrets of the White House press briefing room. From its humble beginnings to its pivotal role in modern politics, we’re about to embark on a whirlwind tour of the hallowed halls of power!

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The White House Press Briefing Room and the Former Indoor Pool

The famous White House press briefing room is built over an interesting piece of history – an indoor pool.

In the 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who suffered from polio, had a swimming pool installed at the White House for therapeutic purposes. This indoor pool was built in the West Wing of the White House, just below the current press briefing room.

The pool was completed in 1933 at the cost of $15,000, which was funded by a $30,000 appropriation for the renovation of the West Wing. The pool was often used by Roosevelt for hydrotherapy exercises, and it became an iconic feature of the White House during his presidency.

Roosevelt’s love for swimming and aquatic exercises was well known, and the pool provided him with a sense of normalcy and privacy as he dealt with the challenges of his condition. It is said that his Secret Service detail wasn’t thrilled with the idea of the President regularly submerging himself in the pool, as they were concerned about potential security risks.

The pool remained in place for decades, but during the administration of President Richard Nixon, the White House press corps lobbied for more space to accommodate the growing number of journalists covering the presidency. In response, Nixon allowed the pool to be covered, creating the space that is now used as the White House press briefing room.

Today, the press briefing room stands as a testament to the evolving needs of the presidential office and its interaction with the media. It also serves as a reminder of the history and the adaptive reuse of space within the White House.

Misconceptions about the former feature under the White House press briefing room

A ballroom

Contrary to popular belief, the White House press briefing room was not built over a ballroom. The White House has never had a ballroom, and there are no records or historical accounts of a ballroom being located in the specific area where the press briefing room is situated. The misconception may have arisen from a confusion with other grand rooms in the White House, but in reality, no ballroom ever existed in the space now housing the press briefing room.

A storage room

Some individuals may believe that the press briefing room was constructed above a storage room. However, historical records and accounts confirm that the space below the press briefing room was originally an indoor swimming pool. There is no credible evidence or documentation supporting the existence of a storage room in that area of the White House. The misconception about a storage room likely stems from misunderstandings or confusion about the layout and functions of various rooms within the White House.

A theater

While it might be an entertaining thought, the idea that the White House press briefing room was constructed on top of a theater is simply a misconception. No historical evidence or documentation suggests the presence of a theater in that specific space prior to the construction of the press briefing room. The area below the press briefing room was intentionally designed and used as an indoor pool. Although the notion of a theater underneath the press briefing room may capture the imagination, it does not align with the historical architecture and layout of the White House.


In conclusion, the famous White House press briefing room is built over an indoor pool. It’s incredible to think that this bustling hub of political communication was once the site of leisure and recreation.

If you’ve enjoyed learning these little-known facts about the White House, why not put your knowledge to the test? Take the White House Trivia Quiz now and see how much you really know about this iconic symbol of American history!

Professor Leonard Whitman