History

Historic White House - Luray VA

Historic White House – Luray VA

The White House Farm is very significant to Page County history. It is located within the original 5,000 acre land grant which became the first European settlement in the Shenandoah Valley.

Stone monument on Hwy 211 West honoring the earliest European settlers of the Page Valley including the elder Martin Kauffman

Stone monument on Hwy 211 West honoring the earliest European settlers of the Page Valley including the elder Martin Kauffman

This settlement was known as ‘Massanutten’ and a stone marker on Highway 211 has been constructed in honor of the first colonizers.  However, the Valley had long been visited by Native Americans who hunted the abundant game and camped along the banks of the Shenandoah. The earliest European settlers to the Shenandoah Valley were from Germany and Switzerland including Martin Kauffman who first settled in Lancaster, Pennsylvania before coming to the Page Valley in 1732.  His son, Martin Kauffman II built the White House in 1760 as a residence and Mennonite meeting house. The structure is listed on both the Virginia Department of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places.  Our plan is to restore the White House and use it to tell the story of early European settlement in the Valley. The Archeology Society of Virginia, led by Dr. Carole Nash from James Madison University, has conducted several digs around the White House.

The brick farmhouse was built in 1890 and has been restored, complete with faux painting of exotic hardwoods on cupboards, steps and baseboards. This popular practice in the Victorian era lent an air of sophistication to homes of the time.

The current bridge is the fifth across the Shenandoah River. In 1862, Confederate General Stonewall Jackson ordered the second bridge to be burnt in order to foil Union forces. The third bridge was destroyed in the mighty flood of 1870 when the Shenandoah rose 30 feet out of its banks. This flood is written about in numerous historical publications as several county residents perished including a whole family whose house got washed away near Alma.

Mural painted in downtown Luray by artist Merle Hilscher of the White House Ferry

Mural painted in downtown Luray by artist Merle Hilscher of the White House Ferry

In 1886, the Board of Supervisors voted against spending the funds needed to rebuild the bridge and the white house ferry was the only way across the River for the next 40 years, when, in 1910, the fourth bridge was built.

We welcome any information that family members or citizens may have on the farm.

Header Photo Credit: Chris Anderson.  The historic White House with Massanutten Mountain in the background.  All rights reserved.