The Casa Blanca House Museum

Casa Blanca Museum in San Juan, Puerto Rico

The Casa Blanca House Museum was one of my favorite places we visited in San Juan! The nearly 500 year-old mansion has so many stunning historic details, and such a storied history.

The home was intended to be used as a fort and a residence for Juan Ponce de Leon, the Spanish conquistador popularly known for his (apparently historically untrue) search for the fountain of youth.

Ponce de Leon died before the house was completed in 1523, but had he survived he wouldn’t have enjoyed his new home for long. The original wooden structure was damaged by fire shortly after completion.

The mansion was rebuilt in stone, but it didn’t take long for the Spanish government to decide that a larger fort was needed. The replacement, La Fortaleza, is actually quite close by. In addition to the incredible ocean views, several balconies at Casa Blanca offer nice views of La Fortaleza, which still serves as the residence of the governor of Puerto Rico.

After 250 years of ownership by the Ponce de Leon family, the home was occupied by the Spanish, and then American government. Each left their mark on the home, in the form of additions, renovations, and even neglect.

Nowadays the home is managed by the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture. We didn’t plan ahead to take a tour when we visited, but roaming the house and pretending we were on an episode of House Hunters was an entirely acceptable substitute.

Casa Blanca House Museum in San Juan, Puerto Rico
Colorful foliage outside the Casa Blanca House Museum in San Juan, Puerto Rico
The kitchen of the Casa Blanca

This kitchen! I should have taken more detail photos; the tiles, all the texture and character were amazing. I feel like this is something I’ll see Jersey Ice Cream Co re-creating any day now. (also, loving how well my Fuji wide angle lens did in this space).

Wood beamed ceiling at Casa Blanca House Museum in San Juan, Puerto Rico

An article I read about Casa Blanca warned that it was somewhat more rustic than some might expect from a mansion. And I suppose it is a tad short on gilding, but it wouldn’t have really occurred to me to think of it as anything less than a mansion–particularly after stepping out on a balcony and surveying the gardens and the sea beyond.

Casa Blanca House Museum in San Juan, Puerto Rico
Sleeping cat at Casa Blanca House Museum in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Stray and stray-ish cats were everywhere in San Juan, some better cared for than others. But this guy seemed pretty happy with his digs.

Bedroom with ocean views at Casa Blanca House Museum in San Juan, Puerto Rico

The furniture isn’t necessarily original to the house, but it’s appropriate to the time period.

Bedroom with ocean views at Casa Blanca House Museum in San Juan, Puerto Rico
Looking out on Old San Juan from a balcony of the Casa Blanca house museum
Colorful mural on the second floor of the Casa Blanca House Museum in San Juan, Puerto Rico

There wasn’t an employee in sight during most of our exploration, but I wish I’d made a point to ask about this mural on the second floor. This floor isn’t furnished, and I’m sure it’s easy to re-paint the walls at any rate, but it still surprised me to find this artwork in the corner of one room. I can’t imagine most house museums in the mainland US being cool enough to permit something like this.

Casa Blanca House Museum in San Juan, Puerto Rico
Casa Blanca House Museum in San Juan, Puerto Rico
Casa Blanca House Museum in San Juan, Puerto Rico
Walls of the Casa Blanca House Museum in San Juan, Puerto Rico
Garden of the Casa Blanca House Museum in San Juan, Puerto Rico
Garden of the Casa Blanca House Museum in San Juan, Puerto Rico

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