The tower name is derived from the white plastering of the brick masonry that is not preserved. The tower was originally part of the Inner Spittler Gate named after the former Elisabeth Hospital. The gate was probably built around 1250 and originally also served as a toll road. The demolition of the gate planned after the transfer of the imperial city to Bavaria was prevented by the resistance of the citizens of Nuremberg. The medieval church of St Jacob that is clearly seen in front of the withe gate was possessed be Teutonic knights until the first half of the ninth century when Napoleon Bonaparte ordered the Order dissolution.