There were several presidential mansions before the White House was completed in 1800, although many didn’t survive. That leaves the Deshler-Morris House in Philadelphia, more commonly known as the Germantown White House, the oldest surviving presidential residence in the United States.
The mansion was originally constructed in 1752 and was briefly occupied by British General William Howe, one of George Washington’s nemeses during the American Revolution. When a yellow fever epidemic broke out in 1793, Washington and his family (along with their slaves) stayed at the house. It was then owned by Isaac Franks, a financial broker and former colonel who served Washington’s army as a foragemaster.
Washington again occupied the Germantown White House the following year for a vacation and met with his cabinet four times while at the residence. He left early, however, in order to deal with the Whiskey Rebellion.
The house’s name derives from David Deshler, its first owner, and Elliston P. Morris, the last owner who donated it to the National Park Service in 1948. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
Know Before You Go
Opens seasonally, usually in the summer. Entrance to the house is by tour only. No tickets are required.