Historic Estates of U.S. Presidents

March 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Destinations, Features

America has a fascination with its presidents. One of the best ways to delve into the character of each commander-in-chief is to visit their boyhood homes. Enduring Wanderlust has compiled six great estates to visit in Virginia, Massachusetts, and New York State.

1. George Washington’s Mount Vernon (Virginia)
washington-house-mount-vernon.jpg Mount Vernon, Virginia © David Paul Ohmer

Mount Vernon was the home of the first president of the United States. George Washington lived on this forty-five acre estate before and after his presidency. The grounds, including a spectacular view of the Potomac River, are open to the public. Washington’s home also features several gardens, lots of farm animals, and a dozen trees that date back to the former president’s generation.

A new National Treasure Tour has been set up for visitors who want to view behind-the-scenes information about locations where the filming took place a few years ago. Since the tours are popular, it’s essential to book ahead. Tours run from March 1 – October 31, 2009 at 9:30am, 11:30am, 1:00 pm, and 3:00pm.

Regular visits to Mount Vernon are possible 365 days of the year. Admission is $14 for adults, $7 for children (ages 6 to 11), and free for children ages 5 and under.

2. John Adams’ Peacefield or The Old House (Massachusetts)
john-adams-house-peacefield.jpg Peacefield, Massachusetts © Bart

Peacefield or The Old House was the home and farm of John Adams. It was the family residence of the Adams family for four generations. Adams’ son, John Quincy Adams, was also president of the United States. It marks the first of two father-son presidential combinations. The other was George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. The house includes the Stone Library, which contains over 14,000 volumes.

As with Washington’s residence, tours are available for visitors. It’s smart to arrive early, as the house has become a popular tourist attraction since the publication of David McCullough’s John Adams and the HBO Mini-series John Adams. The open season for the home is from April 19 through November 10. During this time it is open seven days a week from 9:00am to 5:00pm. Entrance fees run from $5.00 for adults to free entry for children under 16 years of age.

3. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello (Virginia)
monticello-jeffersons-house.jpg Monticello, Virginia © Tony The Misfit

Monticello and its surrounding area constituted the main area of the estate since Thomas Jefferson’s grounds had a number of partitions based on natural barriers. The 5,000 acres are currently filled with a variety of exotic plant life among a number of separate farms in area. A Renaissance man, the former president, was responsible for the design of the majestic property including the thirty-three-room house. Its décor remains consist with Jefferson’s taste though much of the original content has been sold. In a difficult state of affairs, Jefferson’s daughter Martha sold the original contents of the estate in order to pay of her father’s massive debt after his death. The primary author of the Declaration of Independence and founder of the University of Virginia managed to amass approximately $107,000 worth of debt.

Adults can expect to pay from $15 to $20, depending on time of year, for entrance to the estate. The fee is $8 for children except those under 6 who enter free of charge. Hours are based on season: March to October runs from 8am to 5pm
with November to February open from 9am to 4:30 pm. A virtual tour is available on the Monticello website.

4. Theodore Roosevelt’s Sagamore Hill (Oyster Bay, New York)
sagamore-hill-roosevelts-house.jpg Sagamore Hill, Oyster Bay, NY © Bemep

Sagamore Hill is a pleasant estate to visit. The former home of Theodore Roosevelt is filled with the various gifts he received from ambassadors. It also contains the collection of hunting trophies Roosevelt collected over the years. Visitors are required to take a guided tour in order to see the twenty-three rooms of the house. The guides are friendly and well informed.

In addition to the house, visitors have the option to trek along the Sagamore Hill Nature Trail. A brisk walk through a wooded area will drop travelers off at a beachfront area. The rest of the neighborhood has a number of beautiful homes that are worth viewing by foot, bicycle, or car.

Sagamore Hill is open everyday expect major holidays. Tours of the house are offered from 10am to 4pm. Entrance for adults is $5 with children under 15 entering gratis.

5. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Springwood (Hyde Park, New York)
hyde-park-fdr.jpg Springwood, Hyde Park, NY © Randy Yohc

Springwood was the lifelong home and passion of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Roosevelt regularly returned to his house, in the Hudson River Valley, during his unprecedented four terms as president of the United States. The beautiful area has lots of restaurants, historic sites, and hiking trails nearby. Additionally, Roosevelt’s cottage retreat is on the grounds. He was directly involved with designing it to match the local Dutch colonial décor. Be sure to visit the New Dealer’s Presidential Library and Museum too.

Springwood is open seven days a week except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day. Visitors are welcomed from 9:00am to 5:00pm. While the grounds are free to wander, tours of the home are limited. Call ahead.

6. John F. Kennedy’s Brookline (Massachusetts)
brookline-jfk-house.jpg Brookline, Massachusetts © Wally G

Brookline was the birthplace and boyhood home of John F. Kennedy. His family bought it for a second time in the Sixties after several owners occupied it. Mrs. Kennedy restored the home to its earlier décor including the personal furnishing, photographs, and décor of the Kennedy family. His mother also added several of JFK’s childhood items such as his bassinette and the piano on which he took lessons. The neighborhood, including Beals Street, is pleasant to wander around.

The home has two options for visitors: ranger-led tours or self-guided audio tours. Kennedy’s National Historic Site is currently closed for the winter season, but will re-open for in a couple of months. Adults are expected to pay $3 for admission while children 17 years of age and under enter free.

Presidents on the mind? Read about eight presidential inauguration locations to visit.
___________________________________________________________________________________
gennaroeditor.jpgGennaro Salamone is the founder and editor of Enduring Wanderlust. Feel free to contact him with questions, comments, or inquiries with reference to contributing an article or photograph for publication.

 

 

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Comments

48 Responses to “Historic Estates of U.S. Presidents”
  1. John H says:

    I’m a big history buff. I’ve been to the houses in Virginia and New York. Still waiting to get up to Massachusetts. My favorite of those four was Jefferson’s Monticello. Majestic. Beautiful area too. The dome as a Roman feel to it. I’ve also been to Lincoln’s and Truman’s. Lincoln’s isn’t the real home. It’s a replica.

  2. Lisa says:

    Jefferson’s Monticello is beautiful. The other president’s home I’d like to see is Andrew Jackson. He’s an interesting figure. I saw a few photos and it looks grand. Of the modern presidents, I’d like to check out Clinton’s place in Arkansas. He grew up poor. Nice to see someone go from little to the presidency.

  3. Hi Gennaro
    Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello is on my list of places to see. I never knew about Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Springwood in Hyde Park NY. That would be an interest for me to see. Personaly I have only visited Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace so far. I recall think his birthplace was very small.
    Thank You,
    Giovanna Garcia
    Imperfect Action is better than No Action

  4. I am not an American guy but i really like your focus and bridge between topics. Good read – digest while informative. Travel seem to be cut first these days… but having blogs like your under my radar helps me enriching my historical knowledge.

  5. Gennaro says:

    @John H

    Jefferson’s probably my favorite too aesthetically though I’ve been to Teddy Roosevelt’s place so many times that it has a special place too.

    @Lisa

    Jackson is definitely a fascinating figure. I’m interested in checking out the modern presidents too. Haven’t been to the most recent president’s homes yet.

  6. Gennaro says:

    @Giovanna Garcia

    Monticello is beautiful. Nixon’s place must have been a nice visit.

    @Alik

    Thanks. It does seem that travel sections are getting updated less frequently than other sections in major newspapers. Still worthwhile activity and as you say we can learn a lot along the way.

  7. Sheena says:

    Haven’t been to a former president’s home to visit yet. I’d be most interested in the earliest presidents like Washington, Adams, and Jefferson. Love the old style furnishings. It’s also cool to see the building of history.

  8. J.D. Meier says:

    I like the approach of exploring boyhood homes.

    It’s interesting to see where some of our leaders got their start.

    Great pics!

  9. Gennaro says:

    @Sheena

    Agree about the furnishings. The overall feel is like entering a time warp.

    @J.D. Meier

    Thanks. There are lots of nice boyhood homes to visit.

  10. Jay says:

    Very cool. I have been to #5 and it was beautiful! Just a note; after go to the Everready diner- best diner in the world. Thanks again Gennaro for another cool trip!

  11. Dinny says:

    Truman’s place is pretty nice. One of my favorite presidents. Read McCullough’s book on him. I want to do the Virginia homes. Huge properties. Stepping into history.

  12. Sharon says:

    These are great choices. Americans do need a tangible relationship to their leaders I believe, in order to feel closer and connected. I just finished The River of Doubt, a biography of Teddy Roosevelt as well as a chronicle of his last epic adventure. His childhood home – Sagamore – definitely adds an important layer to his life and the book.

    River of Doubt

  13. Gennaro says:

    @Jay

    Thanks for the recommendation. Next time I’m up there I’ll check it out.

    @Dinny

    Truman’s popularity has grown over the years. Very unpopular at the end of his presidency.

    @Sharon

    Teddy Roosevelt was a fascinating character. His place definitely reflects that.

  14. What a great post! I love historic homes and spent some time in Virginia last summer. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to visit Montecello, but it is one of my favorites! I’ve included on my blog two posts with photos of rooms inside the White House as they appeared over the past few decades. It really is fascinating to see the homes of U.S. Presidents! ~Arleen

  15. Terry Kearns says:

    Very nice. It’s a wonderful thing that we can keep these houses open for the public.

  16. This post is very timely, as we are planning our summer and want to visit some of the historic sites in Washington DC and Virginia (particularly ones that have links to Colonial Times). I was very interested to see some of the lesser known presidents’ homes too (lesser known homes, not presidents!). Great post!

  17. Gennaro says:

    @Arleen

    Thanks. I love these historic homes to especially when preserved so well.

    @Terry Kearns

    I agree. Great education for visitors too.

    @Things That Inspire

    That’s a great area to visit with lots of ex-president’s homes. I didn’t include Madison’s, but it’s worthwhile too.

  18. i would love to visit all of them!

  19. Gennaro says:

    @maya

    Welcome aboard. I’ve been lucky enough to see these homes…they’re definitely worth a visit.

  20. Angela says:

    What a great post!! I have visited Monticello a few times and am always in awe! It is very beautiful. For a while, I lived just up the street from where John Quincy Adams was born – in Quincy/Braintree, Mass. It was pretty cool! Thanks for the tour!
    ~angela @ peonypatch

  21. deidra says:

    Great post! I’ve been to Monticello and Mount Vernon, but that National Treasure Tour intrigues me! I’ll be in VA next month and I think I might just have to stop by and check that out. Thanks for the information!

  22. Hi I am visiting via T.I.R. What a great post.

    I hope you will stop by for a visit as I am currently hosting a giveaway.

  23. Gennaro says:

    @Angela

    John Quincy Adams was an interesting president. The only one to be elected to Congress after the presidency :)

    @deidra

    No problem. Mouth Vernon is worth a re-visit for sure.

    @Laura Ingalis Gunn

    Thanks.

  24. Carla says:

    I love JFK’s house; the architecture and the colors is amazing. I would definitely visit that one. I also love traveling to the East Coast

  25. Gennaro says:

    @Carla

    Agreed. Nice neighborhood too. And he’s the most recent of the list so it’s filled with lots of his personal belonging.

  26. Beautiful homes and excellent information. I’ll send this post to my husband’s school email. He’s a high school social studies teacher and will enjoy sharing this with his students.

  27. Trotter says:

    Hi Gennaro!
    Great blog you have here! And the US President’s estates are beautiful. Great post also!
    Blogtrotter now has a post on Akbar’s capital city for you. Enjoy and have a great weekend!

  28. Gennaro says:

    @Amy

    Thanks. History is one of my other passions.

    @Trotter

    Thanks. Enjoy your weekend too.

  29. Ash says:

    Beautiful homes! Thanks for the delightful post…

  30. Wonderful post. I’ve seen several of these homes but hope to visit all of them eventually. Houses with history are so fascinating to me. Thanks!

  31. Gennaro says:

    @Ash
    @Julia

    Thanks. All worth seeing, for sure.

  32. Great round up. I’m partial to Teddy Roosevelt’s home although I haven’t been there in years.

  33. Gennaro says:

    @Wendy

    Teddy’s place is always worth a visit.

  34. Oh – I love Mt. Vernon and Monticello is definitely on my list. Sagamore Hill looks beautiful too – so many places to visit, so little time!

  35. Gennaro says:

    @Tabitha

    Virginia has a monopoly of the early president and beautiful homes. Teddy’s place is nice too.

  36. iWalk says:

    I think Thomas Jefferson is the greatest person in American history. I want to visit the place he lived so much!

  37. Gennaro says:

    @iWalk

    Jefferson was one of the great minds of that or any generation.

  38. Nice little “shacks.”

    I hear Roosevelt had one on Campobello Island too? I wonder what that’s like?

  39. Gennaro says:

    @Jannie Funster

    Shacks :) They did okay, huh? Haven’t been to that home. Sure it’s nice too.

  40. cillajones says:

    I was curious as to why you did not include the Hermitage (President Andrew Jackson’s Home). It is quite a beautiful place as well.

  41. Gennaro says:

    @cillajones – This post was focused specifically on Virginia, Massachusetts, and New York State. No doubt Jackson’s former home is a beauty.

  42. Alex says:

    Don’t forget Montpelier — James Madison’s home, also in Virginia.

  43. Tim says:

    My wife and I visited Monticello yesterday. I live within a four hour drive of the estate and had never visited. I have to say it was worth the drive. I highly recommend.

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