HISTORY THAT CONTINUES...
The White House Hotel, built in 1868, has been restored to its 1886 setting. With 150+ years of fascinating history, the hotel boasts a wide variety of stories, artifacts, and rooms, including a saloon, a speakeasy, a well, and a grand ballroom. Exploring the hotel is truly a journey back in time. There are very few remaining post-Civil War U.S. hotels in America, and this magnificent Federal style example gives us a glimpse back into the grand Victorian era.
The White House Hotel is now an active tour site and overnight stay experience. The owners are dedicated to preserving the rich heritage and history of the grand ol’ hotel. Below is a brief timeline of the major events in the hotel’s history. Stop in for a tour or book a night to stay to find out more!
A BRIEF RECOUNT...
Hermann is born!
The city of Hermann is founded by a group of settlers led by George Bayer of the German Settlement Society of Philadelphia.
A fine, riverfront lot!
John S. Botterman buys lot number 19 on coveted Wharf Street for $150. The property would not be used for a hotel until changing ownership 26 years later.
The German residents of Hermann were strongly opposed to slavery, and most supported the Union cause. Enlistment records from German areas in Missouri show that volunteers from all occupations joined the Union ranks.
Beginning of the dream.
After the conclusion of the civil war, Gottlieb Rippstein begins construction on what would become “one of the largest and finest hotels found on the Missouri Pacific Railroad Line”.
What dreams may come...
Construction of the White House Hotel is complete, and the building begins its journey to becoming the grandest hotel from Ohio to Colorado . The hotel is a large, brick, three-story structure, including a two-story wing, a wrap-around second-story balcony, a fully windowed cupola on the roof for guests to observe the river, a grand ballroom, a basement, and a cellar with an indoor well for water.
The Great Hermann Blaze of 1886.
At 4 pm on July 29, 15-year-old Gussie Pfautsch is working in the basement of Monnigs hardware and cutlery store next door to the hotel. He lights a candle, causing an explosion that burns down the store and severely damages the White House Hotel. The fire would forever be known as “The Great Hermann Blaze of 1886”. Damages include the loss of the hotel’s roof and cupola, and severe damage to the balcony and surrounding wood work.
Rising from the flames like a phoenix!
The local German newspaper in August of 1886 reads: “The hotel rises from the flames like a phoenix”. The rebuilding of the hotel begins, thanks in part to an insurance settlement of $6,000 for the building and $1,036 for the contents. Construction on the outside of the building is completed and many pieces of furniture, which were thrown from windows to escape the fire, are replaced during this new, beautiful, Victorian age of opulence.
A Victorian Guiding Light.
An odd new amenity is installed in several rooms of the hotel: electricity. The Gilded Age is now seen in a whole new light. Due to the newly available two-story privy (outhouse), plumbing would not be needed or installed in the White House Hotel until 1913. Until then, chamber pots and pitcher and bowl sets would suffice.
War time and hungry soldiers.
The hotel begins catering to soldiers, sailors, and marines who filter in to Hermann, stopping at the hotel’s saloon for a pint whilst the steam engines are refueled for the next leg east. Given the demand from the hungry and thirsty railway passengers, the grand ballroom is converted to “The Missouri Pacific Railway Dining Hall,” with the ability to feed hundreds of travelers at a time.
While visiting Hermann’s Maifest, Robert and Judith Plummer spot the ailing building called the White House Hotel, and they purchase it for $37,500. The Plummer family saved the structure from becoming an apartment building, and spent 50 years restoring the hotel, little by little, to its 1886 glory.
The best is yet to come!
The hotel found new owners in early 2021. After finishing up restorations throughout the building and adding a few modern amenities to the overnight stay rooms, the building reopened to the public for tours in fall of 2021. As of fall of 2022, the hotel is now once again welcoming overnight guests -- we are pleased to be sharing the hotel with the city of Hermann and anyone who visits!