The following brief history of White House Farm has been provided by the present owners:
White House Farm has a very rich history beginning around 1730. The property consists of a ca. 1742 farmhouse, a stone barn and springhouse of about the same age, a wooden curing shed, and 60+ acres of pasture and woods. The property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in August 1979. Photos included with that filing can be seen here.
On June 17, 1730, John and Isaac VanMeter petitioned the Virginia Colony Council for 40,000 acres in the Shenandoah Valley. In 1731 they transferred 30,000 acres to Jost Hite, a German immigrant, under a patent. The land, then located in Orange County, Virginia, (see 1734 map) was surveyed by Robert Brooke on 26 March 1734. In May 1740, Mr. Hite sold 395 acres to Dr. John McCormick, a Scots-Irishman. for 8 pounds, 5 shillings and White House Farm began to take shape. By 1742, Dr. McCormick had built a three-story, two-room farmhouse. Dr. McCormick was a prosperous and prominent country doctor, as evidenced by the inventory of his estate completed upon his death in 1768. His will and the administrations are found in the Frederick County archives in Winchester, VA, since Frederick County was formed in 1743. He and his wife Ann had 6 sons (James, Francis, John Jr., William, George, and Andrew) and two daughters (Mary, wife of Magnus Tate, and Jean, wife of James Byrn). James McCormick served as the chain carrier and John Jr. as the pilot on several of George Washington’s surveys, White House Farm was noted for the horses bred there during Dr. McCormick’s lifetime.
Upon John McCormick’s death in 1768, the farm was bequeathed to his youngest son, Andrew. As noted in the will, there were additional structures on the farm, which probably housed guests or family members. Also, at an early date, the farmhouse was expanded by adding two large rooms to the west of the original home. During the Revolutionary War, Andrew and his wife Nancy provided food, lodging, and horse to Washington’s troops, for which they were compensated by the Continental Congress. They raised several sons (Moses, Magnus, Andrew II, Richard Byrn, and George) and two daughters (Mary Ann and Elizabeth). Andrew also served in the 7th Maryland Regiment from April 1778 to May 1779. After the war, Andrew operated an inn on the farm, as evidenced by his having paid for a license to run an Ordinary on 18 February 1792. For such an endeavor, the site benefited from its being on the main route connecting Frederick, MD to Winchester, VA. On September 9, 1807, Andrew sold the farm to John Locke, but preserved 1/4 acre in the southwest corner in perpetuity for the McCormick Family graveyard. Locke’s brother George continued to manage the ordinary, which had become known as White House Tavern.
In 1845 the farm was owned by Joseph and Eleanor Locke Morrow and the 1863 sketch of the house in the James E. Taylor Sketchbook (reproduced below with permission of the Western Reserve Historical Society) depicts its relationship to the “Morrow Spring” across the road, the springhouse, and a blacksmith shop during the War of Northern Aggression. Colonel Harry Gilmor, in his book “Four Years in the Saddle,” describes a skirmish in front of the farmhouse in which he shot and killed Union Captain George Somers in full view of the inhabitants of the house, as depicted in the sketch below from Taylor’s Sketchbook, reproduced below with permission of the publisher, Western Reserve Historical Society. This skirmish is one of 25 such events which occurred in Jefferson County during the Civil War and which were commemorated by the Sons of Confederate Veterans with a series of concrete markers, such as the old one shown at White House Farm (shown below) next to the “old stone stable” mentioned by Gilmor.
On June 20, 1863 the state of West Virginia was created from the western lands of Virginia, insuring that the Eastern Panhandle counties of Jefferson (where the farm is located), Berkeley, Morgan, and others would gradually lose their connections to the Old Dominion. James Taylor’s 1863 sketch shown here shows not only the farmhouse as it stood then but also the springhouse which is discussed further in the restoration section below along with the restoration of the barn. Between 1863 and 1930 the property changed hands four times and the exterior appearance was altered dramatically. The photograph below taken for the U.S. Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) in the 1937 shows a Victorian-style front porch with a center stairway and the two gables depicted in Taylor’s 1863 sketch. Additional gables were added at a later date and the attic was converted into more liveable space. In about 1950 a new kitchen and back porch were added, and in 1995, an additional bathroom and large den were added to the east side of the house. Credits for the historical assets used on this site can be seen at the owners personal site, WhitehousefarmWV.org
The stone springhouse was restored in 2001 and after a three-foot snowfall caused the roof of the stone barn to collapse in 2003, it was restored to its colonial era design. Both these restorations were supported in part by grants from the WV State Historic Preservation Office. In 2011 the owner personally restored the old curing shed behind the house
Between 2000 and 2003, the kitchen was remodeled, the adjoining utility room was converted into a breakfast room, the three fireboxes were rebuilt and dampers were added to two of the chimneys, three bathrooms were remodeled, an exercise room was converted to a large master bedroom suite, the front porch was renovated, culinary and medicinal herb gardens surrounded by a picket fence were established, a formal Williamsburg-style garden was created behind the house, two antique-brick pathways were constructed to improve access to the back and front entrances, the rock break to the west of the house was cleared and populated with bulbs, and a post and rail fence was built along the back and west side of the area adjacent to the house.