Home to Harrisonburg's first mayor Isaac Hardesty, the house bears his name and the name of the physician, Henry Higgins, who began construction in 1848. Isaac Hardesty was born in 1795 and became the city's first Mayor by charter on March 16, 1849, incorporating the town of Harrisonburg. Hardesty completed construction of the home by 1853 and lived in the house with his wife, Ann, and two children. He was a successful business man, apothecary, and merchant, and he served on the Board of Directors of the Valley Turnpike Company.
Isaac Hardesty supported the Union and moved from Harrisonburg during the early part of the Civil War. The Strayer sisters occupied the house and, during their stay, the sisters hosted Union General Nathaniel Banks. The house served as an inn after the war and was home to the Virginia Craftsman, makers of handcrafted furniture, from the 1920s to the 1980s.
In May 2001, the City of Harrisonburg purchased the house, thanks in part to a federal Transportation Enhancement Act grant. The intention was to create a multi-use facility to serve the community as a visitor center and museum that would restore the home's significance to the City of Harrisonburg.
Today, the building is operated by Harrisonburg Tourism. Inside you will find Visitor Services, the Rocktown Gift Shoppe, The Valley Turnpike Museum, the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Civil War Orientation Center, Heritage Bakery & Cafe and the executive offices for Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance and Harrisonburg Tourism. Visitor Services are open everyday, 9am-5pm.