It was Presidents Day in the United States yesterday, a fact likely known by much of the 12MC audience although perhaps not by many people outside the nation. I posted an image and a brief message on my Findery page.
I wasn’t feeling very wordy, and it’s not all that relevant anyway. I mention it simply because Google Maps offered a White House in Tennessee as the top autofill option when I was trying to get the lat/long coordinates for the White House in Washington, DC.
White House, Tennessee?!? Obviously I had to know more, and I uncovered a bunch of other White Houses or Whitehouses in the process.
White House, Tennessee
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White House, Tennessee is a fairly substantial place. I probably should have heard of it and I’ll bet there are readers in the 12MC audience who have been there before. Am I right? After all, more than eleven thousand people live there and it’s been growing robustly over the last couple of decades due to its proximity to Nashville. It’s become a bedroom community.
There was actually a genuine white house there, well more properly an inn, although it had nothing to do with the more famous building in the nation’s capital. According to the White House Inn Library and Museum:
From 1838 through 1858, one of the stops along the Louisville and Nashville Turnpike stagecoach was a two-story inn built around 1829. The building happened to be painted white, which was particularly rare during this time, especially in the underdeveloped land between Louisville and Nashville. Stage coach drivers and others began to refer to this stop and the surrounding area as “White House”.
That sounds plausible. Too bad someone decided to demolish the white house in 1951 and replace the town’s namesake with something entirely less historic. The community banded together in the 1980’s and built a replica in a different location (above) which houses the museum and library.
White House has a geo-interesting feature too (not quite unusual enough to be a certified geo-oddity). The town is split almost equally in half by Robertson and Sumner Counties, with the line running along its primary north-south road, U.S. Route 31W (map). Kids on the west side of 31W go to White House-Heritage School and those on the east attend White House Middle and High School, as an example.
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Texas is so large and has so many settlements that it wouldn’t surprise me if the place name was represented, and indeed there is a Whitehouse. It’s also quite a substantial town with more than seven thousand residents as part of the Tyler, Texas Metropolitan Statistical Area.
One of my favorite sources, the Texas State Historical Society’s "Handbook of Texas Online" provided a ready explanation.
Whitehouse is said to have gotten its name from a whitewashed building near the railroad tracks that served as a school, church, and place for business meetings and social gatherings. Steam locomotives going through stopped to take on water near the “white house,” and soon the community itself became known by the term.
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Even Whitehouse, Ohio is a rather sizable location with four thousand residents. However, here one finds a whitehouse not named for a building. The town of Whitehouse explains that it was actually named for a person.
In 1853, the land was sold to persons associated with the Toledo-Illinois Railroad… It was not until July 5, 1864 that the town plat of the Village was officially recorded. The Village was laid out by John Osborn, a director of the railroad. Edward Whitehouse, Treasurer of the Wabash Railroad, and his wife, along with John Osborn, donated the land for the Village Green. This area is now called Whitehouse Village Park.
I don’t know whether Mr. Whitehouse’s surname descended from an actual white house. That’s a mystery for someone else to uncover.
Whitehouse and Whitehouse Station, NJ
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Whitehouse to Whitehouse Station
Whitehouse and Whitehouse Station are both unincorporated communities within the same township in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. They are, however, distinct entities in spite of their close proximity. Whitehouse came first. The white house that served as its inspiration was a tavern built along the Jersey Turnpike by Abraham Van Horne in the mid Eighteenth Century. Whitehouse Station was then named for Whitehouse at a later date.
There are various other White Houses sprinkled around the nation, including a trailer park near Akron Ohio (map), and a beach in Delaware (map). The trailer park amused me. It’s hard to imagine a larger difference between the grand residence of the President of the United States and a mobile home. That’s quite a drop.