The Master Bath
The Taft bath tub before installation, circa 1911
The Master Bath is a large full bathroom with separate tub and shower stall.
Under Franklin Pierce, running hot baths and showers came to the family floor, likely with a wood-stalled commode and porcelain sink. It had faux wood wallpapering and faux tile cloth flooring. By Lincoln’s time, running water for washing came in from the Potomac River.
Only two bathrooms served the pre-1900 family quarters. One was for the presidential bedchamber; the other, a “family bathroom” for everyone else, including guests, had three doors in addition to having partitions only head-high, making compartments for lavatories, toilets and bathtubs. With the 1902 renovation, modern bathrooms with silver faucets and handles and white porcelain were created in the four corner suites and tucked in elsewhere.
President Taft, nicknamed “Big Bill,” was over 330 pounds (150 kg) and sometimes had difficulty getting out of his bathtub in the White House. He had a huge, 7-foot (2.1 m) long, 41-inch (1.04 m) wide tub installed that could accommodate four normal-sized men. It was replaced in the 1952 rebuilding with a tub of similar size but more modern design.