On January 20, the 45th President of the United States will be sworn into office. And while all the fanfare takes place on the Capitol steps, the White House is getting a makeover. As the former Commander in Chief hands his duties off to his successor, most people are probably not considering that it is not just the oval office the President is passing off. For the last four or eight years, the President and his family have made the White House their home. But come inauguration day, the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue must be turned over to the new President, making January 20th the ultimate moving day.
Once the items cross the threshold of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, the government is in charge of facilitating the relocation. This means that when the President moves out at the end of his term(s), he does not have to schedule or pay for his move. The executive residence budget helps cover the costs of relocating a President once he finishes his term. However, the President-elect does not have this luxury. The new Commander in Chief is responsible for facilitating the move as well as paying for it. This requires tremendous planning and money, particularly those coming from states further from Washington D.C. However, campaign funds can be utilized to help lighten the financial load in securing a move to the White House. The President-elect’s staff must arrange to get items out to a Maryland-based storage facility that houses other White House artifacts, including holiday decorations and furnishings that are not currently being used in the White House. The Secret Service is involved in the moving process, screening all items before they are entered into storage as well as providing an escort for the moving vehicles that carry the incoming President’s belongings from the facility to the White House on inauguration day.
The staff works diligently to make sure that the First Family feels at home while still in the White House. The executive mansion will remain just how the First Family designed it when they first moved in until they step out of the White House for the last time. But as soon as the house is empty, the staff sets to work turning it over, to fit the specifications of the incoming First Family. About a year and a half before the inauguration, the staff draws up blueprints and rules to help the incoming President design his new digs. While changes to the public rooms on the first floor have strict guidelines on how they are arranged and special rules governing changing the setup, the rooms on the second and third floors are for the personal use of the First Family. These private residential floors have few restrictions on what can be changed. Paint, rugs, chandeliers, and furniture can all be changed to the liking of the new family to truly make the 132 room mansion a home for the First Family.
The moving in of the new President’s belongings and the moving out of the former President’s belongings occur simultaneously. In what has been described as organized chaos, one moving van on the south side of the White House loads the outgoing items, while another van on the north side unloads the incoming cargo. Further pressure is added to the process because none of the moving activities can begin until after the outgoing President and President-elect leave for the inauguration around 11:30. Once the trucks have finished loading the sitting President’s belongings, a military escort takes the trucks to a cargo plane which then delivers the items to wherever the President will reside after leaving office. As this is happening, moving trucks facing north on the north lawn have also arrived with the President-elect’s belongings and begin to unload.
No extra help is hired to assist in the move. As soon as the President-elect’s possessions cross the White House threshold, the mansion’s staff takes control of it. In addition to security, no outside help is brought in to help protect the new First Family’s privacy. The staff at the White House works tirelessly on inauguration day to set everything up to the liking of the new family it will be serving. While the inauguration events are in progress, those at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue are working feverishly to turn over all the rooms. Staff have about six hours to clean, repaint, and refurbish the entire dwelling with any new paint, carpeting, and furniture. The goal is to have the entire building completely ready once the President and his family return from all the events. Clothes should be hung in closets and all boxes should be unpacked and cleared so that the White House can feel as homey as possible as the President and his family begin their first day and their duties.