Did you know.....?
Photo by CNN's Emily Schultze
March 29th, 2011
12:45 PM ET

Did you know.....?

The James S. Brady briefing room in the West Wing of the White House is built on top of a swimming pool – that still exists (without the water, of course).

As the briefing room is currently configured, Press Secretary Jay Carney stands over the 8 foot deep end of the pool. The cameras at the back of the room are positioned over top of the shallow end.

Behind the podium is a doorway through which stairs take you down into the swimming pool as it exists today, filled with TV cables and electrical wiring.

More interestingly, the tiles of the pool are covered with grafitti. Over the years various White House visitors, staffers, members of the press, and even past residents have scraweled their signatures on top of the blue-green tiles.

Of some of the many names you'll see –┬ábaseballer Bernie Williams, FOX News' Bill O'Reilly, Bono of U2, former Clinton Press Secretary Mike McCurry, former President George H.W. Bush, and former First Lady Laura Bush.

The indoor pool was built in 1933 for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, where it replaced "spaces used at times as an ice house, laundry, and servants' quarters," according to the White House.

In 1970, President Richard Nixon, who thought the pool was underutilized, converted the space into what was called the "West Terrace Press Center," which consisted of a lounge, briefing area, and offices.

The area was converted into the briefing room as it looks today in 1981, and named for Reagan Press Secretary James Brady, who was wounded by John Hinckley's assassination attempt of President Ronald Reagan.

The briefing room got another rennovation in 2007 under President George W. Bush's tenure, where conditions were improved and made more energy efficient.

At the time of its last makeover, the White House noted: "To attach structural beams, only a dozen wall tiles were removed (and salvaged) from the swimming pool. Otherwise, the swimming pool has been preserved (50' x 15' x 8' deep)."


Topics: White House

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