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A House Divided
Posted at 12:20 PM ET, 10/03/2012

Themed tours offered at Confederate White House

The Civil War, three-story home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond was a home to the Davis family as well as the president’s official office where he met with  Gen. Robert E. Lee and others during the war. Now known as the White House of the Confederacy, the building has many tales to tell, some little known by the public.

Beginning Nov. 1, visitors can hear stories of the diverse household staff—which included enslaved African Americans, freemen, Irish immigrants and a German florist. The session will be 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Other dates, at the same time, include the next four Thursdays as well as Saturday, Nov. 17. The “Servant Life of the Confederate White House” tour is included with the cost of admission. The house is one of two adjacent buildings in Richmond that make up the Museum of the Confederacy.

Davis needed a large staff of servants. When he moved there, his family included his wife, Varina, and three children: six-year-old Margaret, four-year-old Jefferson Davis Jr., and two-year-old Joseph. Joseph died at the executive mansion on April 30, 1864 when he fell 15 feet from the east portico railing. The two youngest children were born at the mansion: William (1861) and Varina Anne (1864), known as Winnie.

He had his office in his home for practical reasons. He had several medical problems including recurring bouts of malaria, unhealed wounds from the Mexican War and insomnia.

The building itself is worth the trip. It was built in 1818 and designed by famous architect Robert Mills who won the 1836 competition to design the Washington Monument and who was also instrumental in the building of the White House.

 

By Linda Wheeler  |  12:20 PM ET, 10/03/2012

 
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