There has been a fence around the White House for over two hundred years. The fence has evolved over time to meet the changing demands of the site including privacy for the First Family and security of the grounds. An iron picket fence first appeared in 1818 and parts of that fence still remain along Pennsylvania Avenue. The majority of the rest of the iron picket fence around the site dates to the 1930s. The fence was last altered approximately fifty years ago when it was raised by adding to the bottom of the pickets. A study and construction documents were completed in 2012 to restore the existing fence including replacing missing elements, removing rust, re-anchoring the fence, and coating with a more durable finish. Since those documents were completed, the current design of the fence has demonstrated to have limited effectiveness at preventing or even delaying trespassers from jumping the fence and gaining access to the White House complex grounds.
The National Park Service and United States Secret Service have jointly begun a study to look at permanent solutions for altering the existing fence to meet current requirements for climb delay and blast resistance. The study is expected to be completed in Spring 2015. Implementation of the study is expected to occur in 2016 if funding is available.
As an interim solution, the National Park Service, in conjunction with the United States Secret Service, is planning to install a temporary anti-climb cap to the existing fence. The cap is completely reversible, will slide over the top of the existing top rail of the fence, and be secured in place.
Martin Howell: Martin_Howell@nps.gov