Casa Blanca Museum - Journey into the Past
The Casa Blanca Museum is the oldest museum in Puerto Rico and considered to be of great historic value. Casa Blanca overshadows many of the other attractions in Puerto Rico due to its rich and interesting history and a name that inspires romantic visions of brave knights on their trusted steeds and undying love. Casa Blanca, or White House, is built on a piece of land that was first purchased by a famous explorer named Juan Ponce de Leòn who later went on to become the first governor of Puerto Rico. He started to build on the land in 1521 but passed away in the same year, leaving Casa Blanca to his young son Luis.
The actual construction of the stone building started in 1523 and Ponce de Leòn’s descendants continued to live in Casa Blanca for more than 250 years. Today the building is situated in Old San Juan on San Sebastiàn Street where it once served as the very first stone fort that watched over the city’s entrance as well as the private residence of the Ponce de Leòn family. The house is a double storey building that is beautifully adorned with the Ponte de Leòn coat of arms and two proud and superbly carved stone lions.
In the year 1779, Casa Blanca was occupied by the Spanish military and later, in 1898, the military commanders of the United States Army used the house as residence. The military left the residence in 1966 and returned Casa Blanca to Puerto Rico in 1967. Casa Blanca was later declared a national museum and opened its doors to the public in 1974. Due to the Casa Blanca Museum being one of Puerto Rico's oldest buildings that has been continuously occupied since its construction, the building was in need of desperate restoration and renovation to return it to its former glory. Over years of use for different purposes, the house is no longer the exact same home that was lived in by the Ponce de Leòn’s, but it still captures the nostalgia and authenticity that it must have originally enjoyed.
The Casa Blanca Museum is a two-bedroom building with a kitchen, foyer, dining room, a throne room and an oratorio. The outside of the museum has a beautiful garden and fragrant orchard. Each of these rooms have been decorated to represent a specific century and the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries are clearly displayed. Through civilian and military occupation, Casa Blanca has remained a visual monument to the history and progress of Puerto Rico and it is therefore not surprising that it is one of the most popular attractions in Puerto Rico.