The White House wasn't always white. The White House actually got its name because of the War of 1812.

The British and Canadians marched into Washington in late August, 1814. They torched the White House after a brief, one sided skirmish (The Battle of Bladensburg). The only reason the rest of the city wasn't razed was because of a huge rainstorm. The Brits were under orders not to capture any turf, so they just buggered off.

The smouldering remains of the White House were eventually rebuilt and whitewashed, and looked much like it does as of this writing.

It's probably all for the better. Before it was burnt and rebuilt, the White House was called the Presidential Palace, which is a stupid name.