Ground Floor of the Residence
The ground floor of the White House Residence connects to the first floor of the West Wing and the first floor of the East Wing because the Residence sits on on a small hill. This floor has 10 rooms, 1 main corridor, 6 lavatories.
For its first century, this floor was thought of as the "basement." In the nineteenth century, many servants, particularly those who had come with the family, were housed here. When, amid the growing sectional tensions over abolition, Zachary Taylor brought slaves to serve his family in the White House, they were hidden from public view, living instead in the cramped attic space.
In his memoirs, Chief Usher Ike Hoover described what the area looked like when he first came to the White House in 1891 to install electrical lighting:
The floor was covered with damp and slimy brick; dust webs were everywhere. An old wooden heating trough hung the entire length of the ceiling of the long corridor. Everything was black and dirty. Rooms that are now parlors were then used for storage of wood and coal. In the kitchen of the original house, now an engine-room [today's North Hall and Curator's Office], could be seen the old open fireplaces once used for broiling the chickens and baking the hoecakes for the early Fathers of our country, the old cranes and spits still in place. Out the door to the rear there yet remained the old wine-vault, the meathouse, and the smokehouse.