If you are a history buff La Casa Blanca is an spectacle of times past. Searching for the fountain of youth, explorer and politician Juan Ponce Leon was killed by a poisonous arrow before he was able to live in his white fortress. This stone structure is the oldest building on the island, located on the coast. The fort was built in 1521 by the first governor of Puerto Rico, Leon, who was given the land in exchange for his service to the crown. However, Juan Ponce de Leon never lived there; two years after its original construction a hurricane swept the island and destroyed the home, which was later rebuilt by Leon’s son in law, Juan Garcia Troche. San Juan, Puerto Rico, which was already gaining prosperity early in its establishment, needed some sort of protection from raiders. La Casa Blanca served as its main fortress until the construction of La Fortaleza.
The house remained in the Leon family for two hundred and fifty years. In 1779, it was decided that the house would be used as a dwelling for military commanders. It continued to serve this purpose for several decades, until it was declared a historical site. Judging by the exterior of the house, you might think it has been abandoned since its last inhabitants. Moss covers every wall, and the typical white paint of Spanish architecture has long since chipped away. The red brick trim seems as if it will flake at a simple touch. However, this rustic appearance makes it all too easy to envision the battles engaged in the very location you stand.
Once you enter the house, it’s an experience unlike any other. Each room emulates a different time era, ranging from the 1500s until the 1800s. Every room is decorated with era furniture, and accurately portrays what life was like during the time period. Tours of the house are available, with guides who give accounts regarding the details of daily life of the men and women who used to live in this remarkable piece of history.
After a walk-through of the house, I cannot recommend strongly enough a stroll through the gardens. An endless fountain stretches from under a stone wall next to the house across the garden, and is a great place to relax and enjoy the canopy of green overhead. Several other sculptures and fountains are hidden throughout the garden, sometimes so well that you have to search through them through the overgrown shrubbery. Tiled walkways lead you through the serene greenery, where local reptile, insects, and birds may make an appearance in the lush, tropical gardens.
Casa Blanca costs nothing to enter, and is truly a remarkable sight. If you find yourself with a free afternoon, this house is definitely worth a visit. It is so close to La Fortaleza you can see the other three forts from the house itself, and is an easy commute to the other larger historical sights on the island. La Casa Blanca has a little bit of everything for everyone in the family, and offers an unforgettable experience. Phone number for la Casa Blanca 787-725-1454.