In 1891, electric lighting was still in its infancy. President Benjamin Harrison, the first president with electricity in the White House, was skeptical about its use. His story reads like the headline from a grocery store tabloid…
“President Benjamin Harrison Shocks America!”
“The Shocking Truth about Your President!”
“The Electrifying Fear that Plagued President Harrison”
Truth be told, the story about President Harrison’s fear of electric shock is a legend too, though not on the level of Bigfoot or the Lochness Monster. According to Oasis Energy:
“In 1891 President Harrison had requested the White House be wired with electricity. Legend has it Harrison was once shocked using a light switch. As a result he and the First Lady were so afraid of being electrocuted using the light switches they had their staff turn the lights on and off for them. They personally continued to use the old gaslights when their staff wasn’t around. President Benjamin Harrison and the First Lady would sometimes go to bed leaving all the White House lights on because they refused to touch the light switches.”
The White House Today
Over a century later 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue remains at the forefront of lighting technology and continues to inspire us with its stately lighting design year after year. On this President’s Day 2015, we say Thank You Benjamin Harrison! — Thank you for facing the perils of electrical shock in your quest for technological advancement!