The house was built in 1818 by Dr. John Brockenbrough, after plans by Robert Mills, and was occupied for many years by his family. Dr. Brockenbrough sold the house to James Morson, who added the top story and after a few years’ occupancy sold it to Honorable James A. Seddon, member of Congress, and later Secretary of War of the Confederate States. It was finally sold to Lewis D. Crenshaw, who owned it at the outbreak of the War Between the States. The interior is noted for its staircase and woodwork.
When the capital of the Confederacy was moved from Montgomery, Alabama, to Richmond, the city bought the house and offered it to President Davis. He declined to accept it under those conditions, so the Confederate Government rented it for him. It then became known as the White House of the Confederacy. Here many anxious days were spent by the Davis family, and from the east porch Davis’s son fell to his death.
When, on April 3, 1865, the city was evacuated, General Godfrey Weitzel took possession of the house and held it until 1870 when it was restored to the city. In June, 1894, it became the property of the Confederate Memorial Literary Society. As the home of a priceless collection of Confederate relics, it is now visited by thousands of both Northern and Southern tourists.
Each Southern State has its own room with its collection of relics, but the two rooms which have an appeal to both North and South are the Virginia and Georgia Rooms. In the Georgia Room three presidents of the United States have been received: Lincoln on April 5, 1865; Roosevelt and Taft many years after.
When President Roosevelt visited the museum he was delighted to see the sword and insignia worn by his uncle, Irving Stephen Bulloch of Georgia, navigating lieutenant of the cruisers Alabama and Shenandoah.
In the Virginia Room, which was the dining room, one sees the case of General Robert E. Lee with the coat and sword worn by him when he surrendered to General U. S. Grant, at Appomattox Court House, April 9, 1865. Also many cartes de visite of him and his family.
General Thomas Jonathan (Stonewall) Jackson’s case contains his military cap, sword, spurs and U. S. epaulettes. General J. E. B. Stuart’s hat with its plume, and his military coat and field equipment are also to be seen, as are the pistols, swords and sashes of General Joseph E. Johnston.
The three greatest possessions of the museum are the sword of Lee, the original Great Seal of the Confederate States of America, and the original Provisional Constitution of the Confederate States.