White House of the Confederacy, Richmond
Charlie gave us a :45 tour of the White House, unfortunately we couldn't take pictures inside. He shared info about the families, decorations and reproductions. The White House of the Confederacy is a gray stuccoed neoclassical mansion built in 1818 by John Brockenbrough, who was president of the Bank of Virginia. The Brockenbrough family sold the home in 1844, it passed through a succession of wealthy families throughout the antebellum period, including U.S. Congressman and future Confederate Secretary of War James Seddon. Just prior to the American Civil War, Lewis Dabney Crenshaw purchased the house and added a third floor. He sold the home to the City of Richmond, which in turn rented it to the Confederate government as its Executive Mansion.
Jefferson & Varina Davis with their children moved into the house in 1861, and lived there for the remainder of the war. Davis suffered from recurring bouts with malaria, facial neuralgia, cataracts, unhealed wounds and insomnia. We were inside President Davis' 2nd floor White House. Pres. Davis’ personal secretary, Colonel Burton Harrison, also lived in the house.
The Davis family was quite young during their stay at the White House of the Confederacy. When they moved in the Family consisted of the President and First Lady, six year-old Margaret, four year-old Jefferson Davis, Jr., and two year-old Joseph. The two youngest Davis children, William and Varina Anne were born in the White House, in 1861 and 1864, respectively. Among their neighborhood playmates was George Smith Patton, Jr., whose father commanded the 22nd Virginia Infantry, and whose son commanded the U.S. Third Army in World War Two. Joseph Davis died in the spring of 1864, after a 15-foot fall from the railing on the White House’s east portico. Mrs. Davis’ mother and sister were occasional visitors to the Confederate executive mansion.
The house was abandoned during the evacuation of Richmond on April 2, 1865. Within twelve hours, soliders seized the former Confederate White House, intact. President Abraham Lincoln, who was in nearby, traveled up the James River to tour the captured city, and visited Davis' former residence for about 3 hours - although the President only toured the first floor, feeling it would be improper to visit the more private second floor of another man's home.
During Reconstruction, the White House of the Confederacy served as the headquarters for Virginia Military, and was occasionally used as the residence of the commanding officer of Virginia. When Reconstruction ended in Virginia, the City of Richmond retook possession of the house, and subsequently used it as Richmond Central School, one of the first public schools in postwar Richmond.
When the City announced its plans to demolish the building to make way for a more modern school building in 1890, the Confederate Memorial Literary Society was formed with the sole purpose of saving the White House from destruction.
pictured is the second white house of the confederacy. the first white house of the confederacy was located in montgomery alabama, confederate president jefferson davis and his family moved into this 1818 townhouse in may 1861. president davis lived in this house until april 1865 just before the fall of the confederacy. the confederate white house was opened as a museum of the confederacy in 1896. the museum has an outstanding collection of the davis family personal effects and exhibits on famous confederate generals. a must see site for students of civil war history when in downtown richmond. the second white house of the confederacy is listed on the national register of historic places.
While in the heart of Richmond, it is appropriate for you to visit the heart of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis' residence during the time. It is known as the White House of the Confederacy, although in comparison to the White House in Washington, this building meant alot more. This particular building was not only a residence, but also a site of Jefferson Davis' home office, and even the main living areas were turned into strategic war planning centers.
The historic information regarding this building shows that it was built in 1818 by Dr. John Brockenbrough, and went through a couple owners prior to the Davis' occupying it. It was owned and occupied until 1865 when the Davis family fled south through to Georgia, before eventually trying to flee west to avoid Union troops. The building continued on longer than the Confederacy however by being converted into the headquarters for the US occupation. After the war had completely ended, the building was converted into a public school. While inside in the tour, both Nat and I wondered how in the world they kept some of the artifacts of the Davis' reign intact with school children running around!
In 1890 after it had served its sentence with the children, the Confederate Memorial Literary Society purchased the buildings and began restoring it. It was the home to the Museum of the Confederacy for almost 80 years until it became completely restored to just a memory of the famous residents that lived there.
Admission is $8 for just the White House, or $11 for the combo with the Museum.
Monday- Saturday 10 am to 5 pm
Sunday 12-5 pm
Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day
This building was built in 1818 and its owner, wanting to help the Confederate cause, donated his home to be the presidential palace of the Confederacy. President Davis and his family moved into this house in August of 1861 and stayed almost until Grant took Richmond in April, 1865. The 40-minute tour begins with a talk in the basement on the history of the house and then it's up a flight of stairs to the main entrance hall. Ever since the Confederate Literary Society bought the House, just short of being demolished, in 1896, there has been a big effort to have donated, buy back, or obtain on loan original pieces from the era in which the Davises lived here. Fully half of the furnishings are originals, the rest are period pieces and spot-on replicas. The Museum staff takes great care to make every room in the house look as if the Davises had just gone on holiday to Hilton Head. My friend Phil is right when he suggests getting the full package (museum and White House) tour because you do get a lot bang for the buck.
In my opinion, no tour of Richmond would be complete without a visit to the White House of the Confederacy. It is a historical site of the utmost importance. It matters not what your own view of the Civil War might be; it is critical, I believe, to be able to step back into history and view the place which was the command center of the Confederacy.
The White House of the Confederacy is only open to those who take the group tour. I would strongly suggest that the combination ticket of the White House and the Museum of the Confederacy be purchased. Not only is it a money saving deal, but the Museum of the Confederacy is a top notch museum in its own right.
The White House of the Confederacy is relatively small and the tour takes no more than a half hour or so. About fifty percent of the original furnishings have been restored. Unfortunately, photos are not alllowed on the tour so I cannot show you Jefferson Davis' office or the state dining room or parlor. But rest assured that the White House has been lovingly restored and attention has been paid to every last detail.
The White House of the Confederacy is connected with the Museum of the Confederacy. Purchase your ticket at the museum and your tour guide will take you throught the home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis during the Civil War.