The White House, an 18th century plantation on the Pamunkey River, was the home of the first First Lady, Martha Dandridge Custis, and her first husband, Daniel Parke Custis after they were married in 1750.

The White House, an 18th century plantation on the Pamunkey River, was the home of the first First Lady, Martha Dandridge Custis, and her first husband, Daniel Parke Custis after they were married in 1750. (Virginia Historical Society / March 14, 2014)

The White House, an 18th century plantation on the Pamunkey River, was the home of the first First Lady, Martha Dandridge Custis, and her first husband, Daniel Parke Custis after they were married in 1750.

Custis died seven years after they were married, leaving his wife to manage the home.

Despite the 18th century custom of widowed women bringing in a male guardian to inherit the estate and manage the children, Martha Custis raised her children, single-handedly and took over White House. Her business training and experience proved essential in the operation of her plantation. Martha even consulted with lawyers when she saw it necessary, something of a rarity for women of her time.

According to tradition, Martha Custis met George Washington at Poplar Grove, located near The White House, in 1758 and the two were married on Jan. 6, 1759, at either St. Peter's Church or The White House.

Although the Washingtons moved to Mt. Vernon in Fairfax, Va. shortly after their marriage, Martha Washington's son, John Parke “Jacky” Custis and his wife moved into the plantation in 1774.

The house was eventually passed down to Rooney Lee, the grandson of General Robert E. Lee. It was in his possession when Union General George McClellan took over White House Landing as his base of operations. McClellan burned the plantation to the ground during the Peninsula Campaign in 1862.

Although President George Washington is thought to never have lived in White House, it is believed that the presidential landmark in Washington, D.C. was named after the plantation.

The plantation is now in two parcels and owned by John G. and Sallie M. Power, and Robert W. and Ruby H. Runions.

Martin can be reached by phone at 804-885-0040.