In 2000, the White House Historical Association celebrated the 200th anniversary of the White House by designing an exceptional Official White House Christmas Ornament: a blue ornament featuring a White House made from Aquia sandstone quarried on Stafford County’s Government Island. That ornament was sold to people around the world, carrying a little bit of Stafford in each ornament. The ornament celebrated the use of Aquia sandstone in the construction of the White House and is still available for purchase today.
Government Island, located along Aquia Creek, was known in the early days of our country’s history as a landmark for its “great rock.” That rock has an incredible legacy for our nation and the area. Aquia Sandstone was quarried for use in the White House and Capitol building, which is a significant achievement in itself. However, the use of the sandstone reaches much further into many more historically significant buildings, including:
- Gunston Hall, home of George Mason
- Aquia Church in Stafford County
- Kenmore, home of George Washington’s sister in Fredericksburg
- The Cape Henry Lighthouse
- Woodlawn Plantation, home of George Washington’s granddaughter
- Fort Monroe in Hampton
- The Old Patent Office in Washington, D.C.
- The United States Department of Treasury
- Numerous modern-day buildings throughout the mid-Atlantic region
Government Island was slated for development when local historian Jane Conner began a successful crusade to preserve the island, culminating in Stafford County purchasing the land and establishing a park, known today as Government Island Park. Ms. Conner lobbied the White House Historical Association for an ornament to represent Government Island’s contribution to the construction of the White House. Today, Government Island is a 17-acre Stafford County park, complete with a boardwalk and walking trails for citizens to enjoy.
There is a moratorium on the stone on the island – none of it may be taken from the island for any use. The White House Ornament is a unique opportunity to own a piece of our nation’s history. Proceeds from the sale of the ornaments by the White House Historical Association are used to further the Association’s mission of education and support for the historical preservation of White House art and artifacts. To purchase a White House Christmas Ornament, visit shop.whitehousehistory.org/holidays/ornaments. For information on visiting Government Island, visit www.staffordparks.com.