La Casa Blanca, or "The White House," precedes the building on Pennsylvania Avenue by several hundred years, and was home to one of the most famous explorers in our history. Built by Juan Ponce de León in 1521, it is one of the oldest buildings in Puerto Rico and a cultural treasure.
The home is integral to Puerto Rico's history and it is a well-presented depiction of life in a 16th century home. There are excellent tour guides, though it would be nice to have more information about the Ponce de León family.
- Expect a rustic rather than a lavish home; this is one of the most charming aspects of the museum.
- Definitely take the guided tour to get a better understanding of what life was like at La Casa Blanca.
- Check out the Throne Room, the grandest of the rooms at the museum.
A walk through this historic home is both a glimpse at the life of Puerto Rico's founding family and a record of how a wealthy resident of the old city would have looked during the turbulent 16th and 17th centuries. The home was built by none other than Juan Ponce de León, Puerto Rico's first governor. However, contrary to popular belief, he never lived here. Also, the original structure didn't last long; two years after its construction, a hurricane destroyed it, and it was rebuilt by Ponce de León's son-in-law.
The Ponce de León family lived here for about 250 years, and the museum does a good job of recreating what their lives were like. The rooms are arrayed with period furniture, and give visitors a great look at the austerity and relatively small luxury that the island's residents enjoyed.
The home of Ponce de León was also the island's first stone-built fort. Indicative of the rough-and-tough times in which it was built, the home was often tested in battle and served as the island's stoutest defense until El Morro was built.
A guided tour takes you through various rooms and various eras, from the 1500s to the 1800s. Outside, take a stroll through the lovely gardens and check out the tiny little garita near the entrance. All in all, La Casa Blanca is an intriguing place to spend an hour or so appreciating what life was like during Puerto Rico's early years.