“I welcome you to ‘Elmshaven,’ the refuge that I found prepared for me on my return from Australia. I hope you will enjoy your visit, and that you may come again. In your prosperity and welfare I am deeply interested. Your house is the world. Your light must not be put under a bushel or under a bed, but on a candlestick.”1 This was a personal welcome from Ellen G. White to a group visiting her home in 1913—a home that has become a historical landmark for Adventists in the Pacific Southwest and around the world.
Ellen G. White was one of the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, together with her husband James, who served as president for a few years. The church they helped establish now has a membership of over 20 million worldwide, with close to a quarter million here in the Pacific Union Conference.
With the passing of time, it’s easy to lose sight of who people really were. Because of Ellen White’s huge influence on the development of the Adventist Church, and her deeply spiritual experience, it can be hard to keep in mind the reality of the woman behind the history. Elmshaven helps us with this because it shows us the practical aspects of Mrs. White’s life—how she ran her home, how things operated from day to day, and how she dealt with the very real challenges we all face.
When Ellen White was 72 years old, she returned from her nine-year stay in Australia. Previously she had lived in the East, but now she believed the West was calling. Regarding a home, Mrs. White was convinced that God would show her the right place in time. On a visit to St. Helena, she learned of the availability of what is today called Elmshaven. After seeing the property, Mrs. White wrote, “This place was none of my seeking. It has come to me without a thought or purpose of mine. The Lord is so kind and gracious to me. I can trust my interests with Him who is too wise to err and too good to do me harm.”2
Her writing at Elmshaven is what is most remembered. As she set up home there, she recognized her main role was to help coming generations in their Christian experience. She wanted to get it all down on paper before she was gone. She wrote, “I am thankful that the Lord is sparing my life to work a little longer on my books. O, that I had strength to do all that I see ought to be done! I pray that he may impart to me wisdom, that the truths our people so much need may be presented clearly and acceptably. I am encouraged to believe that God will enable me to do this.”3
During her life, Ellen G. White completed about 40 books, along with materials later used as compilations, including nine major works she wrote in the upper writing room at Elmshaven, in addition to many hundreds of articles for church journals. Her religious writings and general correspondence run to over 100,000 pages. Some have been translated and published in as many as 160 languages. Millions of books have been produced, and they are also available online and on CD-ROM.
Today, Elmshaven is furnished much as it was when Mrs. White lived and worked there. In fact, many of the furnishings belonged to her and still sit where she placed them. Elmshaven is owned and maintained by the Pacific Union Conference, and it is open to the public. Currently there are between 7,000 and 8,000 visitors each year. Whether you are interested in architecture, antiques, church history, or just want to see how people lived 100 years ago, you are welcome to enjoy the peaceful environment of Elmshaven. Its reserved style and practical furnishings create a sense of simplicity and balance—no doubt a reflection of Ellen White herself.
Learn more online at Elmshaven.org.
1Ellen G. White, The Central Union Outlook, Feb. 18, 1913, par. 1.
2Ellen G. White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, p.126.
3Ellen G. White, “Courage in the Lord,” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, June 12, 1913, par. 11-12.