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Press Release

Release Date: August 03, 2022
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

The stately Chickasaw White House near Emet, Oklahoma, remains preserved today much as it was when constructed in 1895. The preservation of this cultural treasure stands as a testament to the man who had it built and whose actions helped to preserve and define important aspects of Chickasaw culture: Chickasaw Nation Governor Douglas H. Johnston.

The work Johnston did while his family resided at the Chickasaw White House from 1898-1939 was instrumental in preserving Chickasaw Nation self-governance and Chickasaw cultural identity, and in shaping the political landscape of early Oklahoma.

Its classic beauty has withstood the test of time. Once referred to as a “mansion on the frontier,” the large Queen Anne Victorian-style home was built by Governor Johnston using his personal funds. The gingerbread-style house features ornate latticework on the wraparound veranda, mahogany mantels, two large, ornate fireplaces and expansive ceilings in the interior rooms.

Throughout Governor Johnston’s 36 years leading the Chickasaw Nation, the Chickasaw White House served as his home and a place to conduct business. He communicated directly with United States President Theodore Roosevelt to ensure nearly 4,000 fraudulent applicants to the Dawes Commission did not receive Chickasaw citizenship and assets.

Educated at the Chickasaw Academy and Bloomfield Academy, Governor Johnston understood the value of education and worked to make certain the Chickasaw Nation would be able to control its own schools.

According to the National Register of Historic Places, the parlor was the most important room in the Chickasaw White House. Governor Johnston signed many historical documents on the oak table still located there. These papers ranged from allotment divisions for individual Chickasaw citizens, matters of state concerning federal and state authorities, and negotiations between other First American tribes in Oklahoma.

Much of the furniture on display at the Chickasaw White House belonged to the Johnston family, along with some replicas of furniture from the period. Governor Johnston’s granddaughter took a complete inventory and logged the original furnishings within the home. She shared the history of each piece with the Oklahoma Historical Society, which the family had entrusted the property to for posterity in the early 1970s.

Except for modern conveniences, such as air conditioning and modern plumbing, the property is almost exactly as when it was first built.

The Chickasaw White House served as backdrop for several noteworthy events, including the wedding of Oklahoma Governor William E. “Alfalfa Bill” Murray to Alice Hearell, Governor Johnston’s niece. Johnston Murray, their son, was born in the house and would go on to serve as Governor of Oklahoma like his father. Julia Chisholm, Jesse Chisholm’s granddaughter and Governor Johnston’s adopted niece, was also married there.

The Chickasaw White House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural value, time period furniture and historic value to the politics within the Chickasaw Nation.

Working with living Johnston family members and the Oklahoma Historical Society, the Chickasaw Nation acquired the Chickasaw White House in 1998, exactly 100 years after Governor Johnston first moved into the home.

The Chickasaw Nation began the restoration of the home as soon as it was purchased. The home was completely renovated. Original materials were restored when possible, while pieces of the house that needed replacement were painstakingly crafted by contemporary artisans.

The restoration process took more than five years to complete. Now, the grounds surrounding the Chickasaw White House are continually improved, while furnishings are cleaned and restored when needed.