The White House on the Hill in Burton
Welcome to the Roundtopolis and the White House on the Hill in Burton: In spring 2007, Rosenbaum, a chiropractor, and O’Neal, a surgical nurse, left the hustle and bustle of downtown Houston in search of peace, quiet and wildflowers in Washington County. They also found a historic home for sale in Burton. They called the realtor, who was en route home from Austin, waited an hour for a tour and were so impressed they made an offer the next day.
Country living quickly grew on the couple. Over time, Rosenbaum got the itch for acreage. On another back roads drive near Greenvine, they spotted a for sale sign. When they saw the property, Rosenbaum was immediately smitten. O’Neal wasn’t. Her reluctance didn’t deter Rosenbaum, and within days he put in an offer.
Editor’s Note: This is one of a series of articles about lodging options in the Round Top, Texas area.
The White House on the Hill is Born
The couple came to the country almost every weekend. O’Neal stayed at their Burton home while Rosenbaum worked at the Greenvine property. Laughing at the irony of “getting away together separately,” they sold their house in Burton and built a new “old” farmhouse in Greenvine. Then, celebrating their love of country churches, they built the white house on the hill as a guest house.
As they discovered a shared gift of entertaining, they began using it as a B&B in 2013.
They built the barn as a party space in 2014 but converted it to a two-bedroom guest house with a full kitchen in 2016 to expand their lodging options. It’s known as The Barn at the White House on the Hill.
“Adding the hospitality business to our country life added a new dimension to who we are and what we do,” Rosenbaum said. “We come to the country every weekend. Our friends say we’re obsessed. We agree.”
Speaking of hospitality: “For us, hospitality is about creating the ultimate country experience. Everything about our property speaks to the soul of the country but with a touch of elegance people expect from high-end hotels. The superlatives come in little touches like hand-delivering home-made baked goods for breakfast and outfitting the rooms with espresso/cappuccino machines instead of coffee pots.”
Not-so secret weapon: “Barney Reynolds at Round Top Home Builders. He had the skill to use our found and reclaimed materials, that came from as far away as St. Louis and as close as Round Top, to build new structures that feel as if they’ve been part of the landscape for 150 years.”
Best part of the biz: “The people. Opening our property to guests has added a completely different element to our life in the country. Plus, it gives Linda and me a shared project that has become a shared passion. Our long-term goal is to retire to the country and focus our full attention on our properties.”
Building a relationship business: “Our business goal is to share our country life and make new friends in the process. We have people from New York City who have stayed in the White House for the past six antiques shows. The barn opened right before the 2016 fall show, and the people who rented it have already booked for next March and next September. Plus, people just want to get away. Since January, our venues have been booked every weekend. We have anniversary couples, honeymoon couples and families who just want some quiet time and elbow room.”
Stay takeaway: “When our guests go back to their ‘real’ lives, we want them to remember the peaceful feeling they had at our place. As the stress levels rise, we want them to visualize the jack rabbits, the star-filled skies or the way the sun played across the room when they woke-up and be able to recall the serenity of their own special moment.”
Rob’s top three homegrown hospitality tips: “Always be hands-on. Give your guests as much information as possible about the property as well as the local area. Give your guests as much attention or privacy as they want.”
The White House on the Hill
5025 Wickel Rd.
Burton, Texas 77835
Owners: Rob Rosenbaum and Linda O’Neal
Structures: 2 (White House and Barn)
Guest Capacity: 3 king-size beds that accommodate 6.
Setting: 20 rolling acres, including an olive grove, in Washington County near Greenvine, just 9 miles from Round Top.
Special treatment: Linda selected all guest linens from Bella Notte and Comphy while the pillows came from Pandora de Balthazar to provide the ultimate night’s sleep.