Do You Know the History of White House Inn?

white house inn
white house inn

White House, Tennessee was named after a stagecoach stop built in 1829 by Richard Wilks on the land where the city now sits. The inn was torn down in 1951 to make way for a parking lot. The structure was reconstructed in 1986 as part of Tennessee Homecoming activities. It was designed to hold the city’s library and a history museum. The recreation of the old White House Inn was thanks to the book, “White House History and Reflections,” written by City Historian Evelyn Palmer Guill and her drive to make sure that residents didn’t forget their sense of civic heritage.

The White House Inn was built as a two-story house with an upper balcony, two front rooms downstairs, a kitchen in the back, and two bedrooms upstairs. One of the front rooms downstairs probably served as a dining space for those staying at the inn, and the other was probably used as a public room. Oftentimes, these rooms were used for community meetings and private events.

In an interview with Robertson County Connection several years ago, Guill noted that, “a connected room on the side of the Inn served as semi-permanent lodging for “drummers;” peddlers and salesmen from Nashville staying in the settlement for a season.”

It sat on the Nashville to Louisville Turnpike, which was a 19th-century toll road. The trip took two days with a one night stop over at the inn. It is said by some that President Andrew Jackson would stay at the Inn when traveling between Washington, D.C. and his home outside of Nashville.

Behind the inn there would have been a livery barn where travelers boarded their horses. Stable hands would care for the horses and sometimes replace stage horses when needed.

Painted white, unusual for the time and location, travelers began referring to it as “The White House.”

Guill goes on to explain in the “Connection” that, “with the growing popularity of the Inn, stagecoach operators like the Carter, Thomas, and Hough Stagecoach Company took to referring their customers to the “White House” Inn. Eventually the nickname began to encompass the fast-growing surrounding community as well.”

When the building was recreated in 1986, the city decided to house a much-needed library in the bottom part and the county museum in the top part. Later, space was added for a visitor’s center. When the library outgrew the building and moved out, the museum was moved to the first floor and the top floor became the home of the Chamber of Commerce.

New exhibits have been added to the museum with the added space. It now holds artifacts and exhibits spanning over 200 years of the area’s history. Many of the artifacts were collected by Guill as the City Historian, and she continued to see to their preservation as the museum’s Director and Curator for many years. She passed away in February of 2022 at the age of 94.

The museum continues to serve as a connection to White House’s past, and a repository of many found items telling the story of individuals who live and have lived here. Representatives for the museum go into local schools to tell stories of what life used to be like, and it sponsors events that show community members what it was like in the early days of the area, with docents weaving baskets, blacksmithing, milking goats, and cooking a meal over an open fire at The Experience every year.

Check their Facebook page for other community events and activities.

White House Inn Museum
412 Highway 76
White House, Tennessee
Phone: 615-672-5223
Hours: 9:00am – 4:00pm Monday – Thursday
To schedule a visit outside of posted business hours, call Susan Holcraft.

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