About halfway between Austin and Houston, and just minutes from Round Top and Burton, an unexpected love story has turned into a life story of passion with a purpose. A spontaneous road trip to admire fields of wildflowers eventually bloomed into a new path of owning a multi-faceted Texas destination for one very adventurous Houston couple. Aspirations grew wings and took flight from the big city to the country. The White House on the Hill is a hidden gem where dreams become reality. This twenty acre property offers luxurious accommodations for those seeking relaxation in the countryside, an intimate venue for boutique weddings and special events, and weekly gatherings for community art enthusiasts. In addition, there’s (cheers!) wine on the horizon!
Linda O’Neal didn’t realize she was being set up to meet Rob Rosenbaum when she agreed to go to dinner with friends on 9-9-99. The artistic Beauty met her match that evening! Three months to the date they found themselves dining in Paris. During that four day trip, they both realized their relationship was something special. Twenty three years later, they are still very much in love and purpose driven. Both were in the medical field when they made the bold decision to start this new life in the country and it seems that just about every detail has a book-worthy unfolding of events. Listening to the back stories, their individual personalities seem to intertwine beautifully into a unified weaving of kindness, impeccable style, elegance, and creativity. They are visionaries with enduring patience and perseverance. When they found the property on Wickel Road, it needed a lot of work. As lush and green as it is today, it’s hard to believe the property only had three trees, a camp house, and a lake. At that time, they weren’t thinking “venue”…they were thinking “home”. As they began designing and building, they envisioned the structures to look authentically vintage. They collected and gathered…they planned and planted.
Since 2007, they have built their fabulous home, the chapel, the white event barn and the art barn. From floor to ceiling, they have filled each space with the finest antique furnishings complemented by some modern twists. They planted three hundred olive trees (and produced olive oil) along with many other trees that now provide shade. There are vintage garden statues amidst pink roses, flourishing peach trees, bountiful gardens, and now the anticipation of a vineyard. What remains paramount to this duo throughout this busyness? Faith, family, and friends…their beloved community…and art. A respect of the land, working hard, and a love of all things beautiful.
After finishing their personal residence, Linda and Rob considered moving an old church to the property as a guesthouse but instead decided to design and build a quaint chapel utilizing antique elements. They meticulously gathered reclaimed wood, gothic and stained glass windows, massive, over-sized rustic wood beams, and gorgeous chandeliers and distinctive light fixtures. They furnished it with ethereal lace curtains, a claw foot tub, vintage velvet furniture in “quiet” colors, a French vineyard cross, a decorative, hand-carved armoire, and so many pretty touches. The design details combined with a super comfy mattress and luxurious white Belle Notte linens soon made the chapel a favorite guest retreat. Hence, a bed and breakfast, which doubles as a honeymoon suite, was born! With its pristine steeple and the peaceful lake nearby, the chapel also becomes a picturesque backdrop for an outdoor country wedding. The bride can get ready inside and make her grand appearance through the ornamental front door.
Delicious breakfast goodies are delivered fresh each morning. The Chapel is dreamy… with an aura of calm!
Booking your special event or boutique wedding at White House on the Hill has layers of advantages. The barn sits on the highest point in Washington County. Enjoy the expansive view from the fire pit with a glass of wine. The sunsets are breathtaking! Another bonus is the 48 hour allotment for your event. This allows plenty of time to decorate, celebrate, and relax! The White Barn is not only designed to be a “rustic elegance” reception venue for up to 60 guests, but quite sensibly has three unique bedrooms furnished with the finest European antiques and treasures. There are two bathrooms, a roomy kitchenette, and an artist loft with twin beds. Growing in popularity is the “all inclusive elopement package”. Imagine a memorable destination wedding with just a handful of your nearest and dearest where every detail is taken care of. Just show up!
Never underestimate the power of “play”! The Art Barn is a place where art is made and friendships are formed. As an artist, this is the concept that drew me to the property. Easels, tubes of paint, brushes, aprons and blank canvases await. Long tables and chairs are set up and ready to welcome the inner artist. The big glass garage doors roll up and the inspirational view of the lake ignites playfulness and creativity.! Curious? Every Tuesday morning this barn is open to the public as free studio space. Stop by to create, collaborate, and learn alongside others. Locals and overnight guests arrive to paint or bring their own projects of all types and use various mediums. Linda’s love for art had inspired her to take classes from the Houston Art League about sixteen years ago. She’s been hooked ever since! You’ll find her paintings gracing the walls throughout the property and her talent has brought a steady flow of commissions. With more and more wedding bookings, her barn loft studio wasn’t always available. Rob had an extensive collection of antique tools and had ideas for woodworking. The couple decided that a new barn with plenty of creative space for both of them was needed. A close friend and local artist, Ann Locke, joined them in implementing the idea of providing studio space to encourage others to create and advance art into the surrounding communities. Their passion for art has been successfully combined with a purpose, and I truly love their enthusiasm of sharing this space!
After losing the three hundred olive trees to an unexpected freeze in February of 2020, Linda and Rob were reminded of the fragility of life. In an effort to salvage beauty from the ruins, Rob used the tree trunks to make legacy charcuterie boards and the branches became natural “sculptures”. My souvenirs include both items and I’m fondly reminded of my stay by seeing their sweet logo branded into my olive wood serving board and the sanded branches are now a hat tree in my home. One lone tree was left standing as a memorial on the property. Heartbreak has transitioned into pure excitement with a plan to breathe new life into the soil. Four hundred Blanc du Bois (that’s just fun to pronounce) grapevines have been planted. If all goes well, the first batch of grapes will be harvested in 2024 and each vine planted represents a future bottle of wine!
Follow on social media and you can see for yourself how quickly the grapevines grow! Watch for artist workshops and check out the smiles and masterpieces as locals create weekly in The Art Barn. Linda and Rob are warm and welcoming, and I can easily see why people from all over the world stay and recharge or choose to begin their own life story by saying “I do” at The White House on the Hill.