Lancaster County Places of interest

President James Buchanan's Estate "Wheatland"

Wheatland home of President Buchanan

Located in Lancaster Pennsylvania, Wheatland the final resting place of the 15th President of the United States, James Buchanan, was constructed by an unknown architect in 1828 for William Jenkins, a lawyer and financial institution president. Wheatland contained an estate and also a number of barns on 156.5 acres of land. The mansion itself was integrated in the Federal Style of the period, which highlighted balance as well as a Greek Revival design. The building and construction is divided into three parts that include a center area and two wings on either side. Inside, the mansion has two main floors, an attic as well as a basement (which initially housed the kitchen area and the wine cellar).

The two enduring outbuildings, also constructed in 1828, are the privy, and a structure that consists of the smokehouse and the icehouse. The privy is divided into two areas, one with five seats at differing elevations and one with 3 seats. The smokehouse and icehouse are confined to one building. The smokehouse is located on the upper area, while the icehouse is located on the lower level.

Here’s a map with driving directions:

In 1836, William Jenkins split Wheatland into a plot of 17.9 acres that included the manor and outhouses. He marketed this tract to his son-in-law, Thomas Potter. Mr. Potter possessed Wheatland for several years, during which time he acquired an extra 4.4 acres of land from Henry Brenneman.

William Morris Meredith, a Philadelphia lawyer, purchased Wheatland from Potter in 1845. He paid $6,750 for the residential property that included 22.5 acres of land. Just a couple of years later in 1848, James Buchanan, who was currently working as Secretary of State under President Polk, acquired the home for the same rate. Once he satisfied his duties as Secretary of State in March of 1849, Buchanan and his family moved into Wheatland.

Apart from a few abroad visits scattered throughout his political career, Buchanan lived at Wheatland up until his death on June 1, 1868. After his death, his niece, Harriet Lane Johnston, inherited Wheatland and utilized the home as a summer residence for her family. Following the unfortunate deaths of her children as well as husband, she offered Wheatland to the Willson family in 1884.

Mary Wilson, the matriarch of the Wilson family had a son George B Willson and a younger daughter Mary E Willson. On the death of her mother Mary E Wilson inherited Wheatland. Upon her death her cousin Mary Willson Rettew inherited the estate. After Mary Willson Rettew’s death in 1934, Wheatland was up for sale once again.

With the intent to preserve Wheatland for future generations, the Junior League of Lancaster raised money to buy the estate. They collected over $50,000 from the Lancaster area, enabling them to acquire Wheatland and establish a non-profit instructional foundation called the James Buchanan Structure for the Conservation of Wheatland. Wheatland’s doors formally opened to the public on May 5, 1936. The James Buchanan Foundation for the Conservation of Wheatland would own as well as operate the house for the following 73 years.

If your interested in seeing another Lancaster treasure you should check out The Demuth Museum: 

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