Harriet Lane was the Jackie Kennedy of the 1800s. She was the first in many of the things we take for granted with First Ladies of today. She was the first to become a pop culture icon, she wore scandalously low-cut dresses, her hair and clothing styles set trends and thousands of female children were named after her. Harriet brought gaiety to a White House after the dismal and depressing years of Jane Pierce. Harriet was the first to routinely invite artists, musicians, authors and other celebrities to White House functions. She was also the first to take up a social cause, lamenting the plight of the American Indians and their horrid living conditions on the reservations. But there is something even more fascinating about her.
Harriet was the niece, not the wife, of lifelong bachelor President James Buchanan. She became his charge as a young girl after being orphaned at age eleven. Buchanan sent her to the best schools and provided her with all manner of perks a respectable young lady of the day should have to see her into the upper crust of society. This of course paid off in ways he likely didn’t expect when she became his “First Lady” when he was elected President in 1856. She was only 26 years old at the time. During his presidency, Harriet filled the White House with the exuberance of youth, laughter, flowers and charmed guests. She was one of the most popular “First Ladies” in history.
This is the home where Harriet was born and lived out her early childhood. Located in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, this exquisite historic home features five spacious ensuite bedrooms plus an additional bath and a library. The chef’s kitchen has top-of-the-line appliances and a large fireplace. There are four large parlors with chandeliers and 11-foot ceilings, and a third floor attic that was once used as a ballroom. The Georgetown-style courtyard is designed with lush gardens, walkways, in-ground pool and amazingly, the original outbuildings, which include a large two-story carriage house, a spring house with what may be the last cucumber pump in the country, a smoke house and summer kitchen. Living history priced at $649,900.