The Top Floor
The old attic had long been used for storage along with about eight small sloped-ceiling bedrooms for servants (initially, Zachary Taylor's slaves), but it was accessible only by ladder. The 1902 renovation installed a staircase and expanded the space for some ironing rooms, linen closets, clothing storage, and guest rooms. The Tafts finished more of the space and the Wilson still more. One room was dubbed the "Bachelor's Suite" for young men who courted the Wilson daughters, and in another well-lit area painter Ellen Wilson worked on her canvases.
In 1927 the attic was enlarged and finished as a third floor while the White House roof was rebuilt. Ike Hoover, chief usher at the time, wrote:
Going up eiter by the stairway or the elevator, we find ourselves in a long central corridor running east and west with rooms on both sides and a suite at either end, the one on the east being used by the colored female help, such as the cooks and housemaids. On the south side of the corridor are six room. Four of them were furnished and intended to be guest-rooms, but were used as offices by [First Lady] Mrs. Hoover's three secretaries. The other rooms are a sewing-room and a valet's bedroom. On the north side of the corridor are all kinds of rooms—two are used by the housekeeper, two are linen-rooms, three general storerooms, one cedar-room for winter storing, and finally a very large space over the north portico is used to store the chairs used a musicales and dinner parties.
Lou Hoover's secretaries worked here. FDR's personal secretary Missy LeHand lived here, and later so did little Diana Hopkins, daughter of FDR's live-in adviser Harry Hopkins. After enduring the intolerable food supervised by a housekeeper who ignored his wishes, FDR had a small kitchen created on the third floor, and there his meals were made. Dwight Eisenhower cooked his own soups and stews here.
In 1952, the sloped corners were squared off to create corner rooms during the Truman reconstruction. The penthouse suite on the west side was used by the remaining in-house servants. This floor now has 20 rooms, 1 main corridor, 9 bathrooms.
Jackie Kennedy first decorated the third floor bedrooms with antiques, the most notable being the "Empire Guest Room," which featured a bed used by John Adams. The Carter family had one of the rooms sentimentally lined with wood panels from an old family barn in Georgia. Julie Nixon and her husband, David Eisenhower, the visiting Reagan and Bush children and grandchildren, and relatives of the Clintons all stayed here, and while in residence the Ford and Carter sons lived in rooms on this floor.
Hillary Clinton created her own Eleanor Roosevelt room where she kept memorabilia of her predecessor that had been sent to her as gifts and used the west-side suite as office space. Under the Reagans, and again under the Clintons, the bedroom suites were beautifully decorated with items from the White House collection.