We always appreciate the comments readers make. A few days ago a visitor to the First White House of the Confederacy wrote about sensing a “presence” in the House when they went upstairs.
We are asked about this occasionally, but we say that we have angels in the House, not ghosts, and we really mean that! It is such a special place, and we feel blessed to have a small part in taking care of it. All the ladies of the White House Association feel that way too, as well as our Staff. We know the House is looked after by a guardian angel or two.
As you may know, but just to quickly review, the House was built by William Sayre, ancestor of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda Sayre, between 1832 and 1835. The successive owners were all prominent Montgomerians.
It was Colonel Edmund S. Harrison of nearby Prattville who bought the House from Col. Joseph Winter, and rented it to the Confederate Government to be used as a “White House”.
The House survived the War. Ownership of the “Jeff Davis House” as it was called, passed through two more hands to those of Archibald Tyson of Lowndesboro. At his death in 1873 his daughter, Sallie Tyson Render, of La Grange, Georgia, inherited it and rented it out.
It became a boarding house for trainmen and was in sad condition. It took twenty years for the White House Association, formed in 1900 to raise the money to save the House and have it moved to its present location.
And by the way, it is called the First White House, because when the Confederate Government moved to Richmond, the Davises left Montgomery and moved to Richmond to what we refer to as the “Second White House”. The folks in Richmond simply call theirs “The White House”, but we will always know we, here in Montgomery, have the “First White House”!!!