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Dear Matthew Alice:

How many bathrooms are there in the White House? In second grade, somebody told me there were 365.

-- Silviano, Harborside School, downtown

Here's a tip. Don't look at that kid's test paper for answers. There are only 32 bathrooms in the White House. But when the place officially opened in 1797, there were no bathrooms. Indoors, anyway. Thomas Jefferson added two tin-and-wood toilets around 1813. White porcelain toilets weren't even invented until the 1890s. Permanent bathtubs were added in the early 1830s, at the same time the White House got (cold) running water. Before then, all water had to be carried upstairs in buckets. But even after the 1830s, the staff had to carry hot water upstairs for the baths. When the White House was renovated in 1948, President Truman's bathroom got a new seven-foot tub. Truman himself was only about five foot eight. And here's another tip. In school we learn that the United States is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. But that doesn't mean we can pee at the White House. All 32 bathrooms are private. So if you plan to visit George and Laura, better go before you leave home.

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