Arts and Culture 2011

Amy Holtcamp

SOUTH CAROLINA INSIDER

 

Museum of the Week – The White Home

Posted 7/13/2011 4:01:00 PM

A few years ago, after Historic Rock Hill’s five-year renovation of the town’s historic White Home, many locals who’d grown up there were left scratching their heads and wondering: “Why did they paint the White Home cream?”

Many who had grown up in Rock Hill had always thought that the house was called “the White Home” because of the white color of its paint, but the moniker actually came from the name of the family who lived there for five generations.

George and Ann White bought the lease rights to 153 acres from the Catawba Indians in 1837 and began to build their home. The original house had a much smaller footprint than the house you see today when you visit Rock Hill. Over the years owners remodeled the home, adding new rooms, porches and entryways.

The White Home has been beautifully refurbished, but what makes a visit here special is the wonderful information and artifacts on display in the house.

Historic Rock Hill was lucky to find a treasure trove of information about the house. Many of the renovations took place only after Ann White received an inheritance from her brother, Hiram Hutchinson. There was, however, an extended dispute over his estate. While she would eventually receive a large fortune from her brother, during the 10-year period that the will was contested, any money she spent from the inheritance had to be tracked by detailed receipts and records. As a result, the White Home has an unusual diary of its own; ledgers list every purchase made for its refurbishment spent over more than a decade.

In addition to this unusual record of the house’s changes, the White family lived in the home from 1837-2005. Historic Rock Hill bought the property from George and Ann’s descendents. The family was able to provide many pieces of furniture, personal items and family photos that, now on display in the museum, offer a fascinating insight into the family who lived here.

So, why is the White Home cream? Well, if you search the receipts displayed on the walls, you will see that there is one for gallons of cream-colored paint. Historic Rock Hill’s architect did a scratching and confirmed that that was, in fact, the house’s original color.

Volunteers are happy to share what they’ve learned about the home and the White family. The stories that have been passed down through the generations are just as interesting as the photos and relics on display. For instance, one story says that the home was about to be torched by Union forces when a Northern general, who was a Mason, saw Ann White wearing her husband’s Mason’s ring. When he saw the symbol of his brotherhood, he gave the command to retreat, and the family (and house) were saved.

The White Home is open Thursday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, $3 for youth ages 5-17 and free for children 4 and younger.

Click here for more information on the White Home and Historic Rock Hill’s other preservation projects.