Excerpts of the President's News Conference
I haven't given any thought as to what Mrs. Coolidge and I can do about a place to live while the White House is being repaired. The Director of Buildings and Grounds, Major Grant, says we shall have to move out; that the repairs will take from six to ten months. I confess that I regard that as a very painful operation. I have resisted as long as I could the suggestion that the roof should be repaired. Colonel Sherrill was telling me it ought to be done three years ago, and I have finally come to that conclusion. It will be necessary to work clear down to the second floor in the White House, so there would not be any opportunity for us to live on the second floor while the repairs are going on. That is due to the peculiar construction. Instead of resting the floors on the foundation, some of the floors are hung on the bridge work that goes up over to make the roof, so that when the roof is taken off there isn't anything to support the floors. They have to come down at the same time. I want to get some place as close as I can to the White House here.
PRESS: When do you contemplate having the work started? This year or next year?
PRESIDENT: I thought that perhaps after the Congress adjourns next March. That would enable us to use the White House for the usual winter social functions. Then we could move out. Congress would be away from about the first of March to the first of December undoubtedly—that is nine months—and during that period I should think they ought to be able to make the repairs.
PRESS: Did Major Grant think it safe to live in the White House next winter?
PRESIDENT: I think it is fairly safe, but it is a developing situation. The weaknesses are constantly getting greater. No one can tell just when the roof will fall in if it is left as it is, or perhaps it would not actually fall in at all, but the timbers are cracking and the weakness is very apparent. I had it examined by a member of the House, who is in the contracting business, a couple of years ago. The results of the examination and plans of the examination in reports that were made by the Engineers of the Army were sufficiently terrifying, but I knew the tendency of military men to think that it is necessary to take down the whole White House in order to fix a chimney, so I had a man in private life, or civil life rather, make an examination, and he rather confirmed the views of the military engineers. So that I very reluctantly came to the conclusion that it was necessary to have this done.
Source: "The Talkative President: The Off-the-Record Press Conferences of Calvin Coolidge". eds. Howard H. Quint & Robert H. Ferrell. The University Massachusetts Press. 1964.
Calvin Coolidge, Excerpts of the President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/349155