The White House Inn was built by George Bowne, a salvage expert from Key West, Florida, circa 1835. He was reputed to be the wealthiest individual in Florida at the time and built the Inn as a second home. In the mid-1800’s, Cooperstown’s leading merchant, JP Sill, bought the house. In 1856, Sill built the Landmark Inn and twelve years later he used the same plans to build the JP Sill House, located directly across the street from the Landmark Inn. Sill made his fortune growing and selling hops, the area’s leading cash crop at the time. In the 1850’s and and 60’s, 7/8th of the nation’s hops were harvested in New York, until a hop blight toward the end of the century eventually brought New York’s booming hop industry to an end, though, today there is renewed interest in reviving the local hop growing tradition.
In the 1850’s Cooperstown suffered a devastating fire which wiped out most of the wood structures in the village. The White House Inn, on the fringe of the fire, survived, but the town decided to take measures to prevent a similar disaster from happening again. They diverted a small stream, called Willow Creek, two blocks north of its original path to its present course. It currently flows along the edge of the Inn, then underneath Chestnut Street and the 1st base stands of Doubleday Field, further beneath Main Street and into Otsego Lake. In this way, the town is able to have water delivered to the center of itself in the event of an emergency.
Dr. Edward Whalen, a dentist, purchased the house in the 1950’s and used it as his office and residence for nearly 40 years. The entrance room to his home served as the waiting room for his patients during that time and keeps the same name today. Ed and Marjorie Landers bought the home in 1995 and opened it as the White House Inn Bed & Breakfast that it is today.