East Wing Overview
President Jefferson added colonnaded terraces to the east and west sides of the White House, but no actual wings. Under Jackson in 1834, running water was piped in from a spring and pumped up into the east terrace in metal tubes. These ran through the walls and protruded into the rooms, controlled by spigots. Initially, the water was for washing items, but soon the first bathing rooms were created, in the ground-level east colonnade. Van Buren had shower baths installed here. The East Terrace was removed in 1866. For many years, a greenhouse occupied the east grounds of the White House.
TR's Social Entrance: 1902
The first small East Wing was built in 1902, during the Theodore Roosevelt renovations as an entrance for formal and public visitors. A long cloak room occupied today's Family Theater.
FDR's Bomb Shelter: 1942
The East Wing as it exists today was added to the White House in 1942 primarily to cover the construction of an underground bunker, now the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC). Around the same time, Theodore Roosevelt's coatroom became the movie theater. Later, offices for correspondence, calligraphers and the social secretary were placed in the East Wing. Eleanor Roosevelt employed the first social secretary.
Office of the First Lady: 1977
Rosalynn Carter, in 1977, was the first to place her personal office in the East Wing and to formally call it the "Office of the First Lady." Today, the social secretary prepares all of the invitations and written correspondence for every event held at the White House. The East Wing serves as office space for the first lady and her staff, including the White House social secretary and correspondence staff.
The East Wing also includes the Garden Room, Family Theater, Visitors Foyer, and the East Colonnade corridor. Visitors touring the White House enter through the east entrance and follow the East Colonnade past the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden to enter the Residence to see rooms on the Ground and State Floors.