Tag Archives: Presidential

Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site

Overview

The longest tenured First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt lived in the White House from 1933 to 1945.  In the 1920s, she had set up a furniture-making business on her property in Hyde Park, New York that the family called Val-Kill.  When that venture ended in 1936, the family converted the factory building into a cottage, where Eleanor resided after Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) died until her own death in 1962.  During this time she lectured, wrote some of her 27 published books, hosted a television talk show, and served as chairman of the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations.

Highlights

Val-Kill Cottage, film, Stone Cottage

Must-Do Activity

Tours inside Val-Kill Cottage are offered every half hour and tickets are available at the National Park Service (NPS) visitor center.  The tour starts with the short film “Close To Home” then enters the house through the same back door used by many world leaders in the mid-1900s.  The cozy home is filled with original furnishings, including the metal folding chairs in the dining room.  The tour ends on the back porch, but take time afterwards to enter Stone Cottage and walk the grounds.

Best Trail

The Hyde Park Trail connects all three of the local National Historic Sites, including Top Cottage where FDR met with world leaders just up the hill from Val-Kill.

Instagram-worthy Photo

No swimming is allowed in the pool behind Stone Cottage, but it does look inviting on a warm day.

Peak Season

Summer

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/elro/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None at this time

Road Conditions

There is ample free parking at the site, which is only a short drive from the bustling Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site and Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site.

Camping

Mills-Norrie State Park offers shady campsites and showers only a few miles north on Highway 9.

Related Sites

Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site (New York)

Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site (New York)

Women’s Rights National Historical Park (New York)

Explore More – While interviewing him for the New York Post, Eleanor Roosevelt hosted which Soviet Premier at Val-Kill in 1962?

First Ladies National Historic Site

Overview

Authorized in 2000, this small site in Canton, Ohio is dedicated to preserving documents related to the wives of American presidents (and hopefully someday husbands, too).  It is centered on the Victorian mansion where William and Ida McKinley lived from 1878 to 1891, while the future president served in Congress.  However, not all “First Ladies” were married to the president, as Dolley Madison served as hostess to the White House for a single Thomas Jefferson before her husband was elected president.  This two-acre site is operated by the National First Ladies’ Library, so we are not sure why this counts as one of the 420 National Park Service (NPS) units rather than an affiliated site.

Highlights

Museum, film, Saxton-McKinley house

Must-Do Activity

Located downtown in the 1895 City National Bank Building, the Education and Research Center serves as a museum, visitor center, and theater.  Start your visit in the museum filled with dresses and other memorabilia of first ladies and purchase a ticket for the guided tour.  On the lower level is a 91-seat Victorian theater where a short film is presented.  Costumed guides will walk your tour group one block from the theater to the Saxton-McKinley house and inside to see the period furnishings and reproduced wallpaper. 

Best Trail

None

Instagram-worthy Photo

The 1841 brick Victorian mansion was the childhood home of Ida Saxton, who would marry William McKinley.

Peak Season

Summer

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/fila/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

$7 per person for tour ($4 with the America the Beautiful pass)

Road Conditions

Free parking is available behind the Saxton-McKinley house.

Camping

The NPS does not offer camping here or at nearby Cuyahoga Valley National Park, but there are many other lodging options since the Pro Football Hall of Fame is also located in Canton, Ohio.

Related Sites

Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio)

James A. Garfield National Historic Site (Ohio)

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park (Ohio)

Explore More – Some U.S. Presidents were widowers or bachelors, so the question is have there been more First Ladies or Presidents?

Adams National Historical Park

Overview

The Adams Family (doo doo doo doo snap snap) was very influential in American history, with members serving as foreign ministers, two presidents, and literary historians.  They resided in Quincy, Massachusetts for five generations from 1720 to 1927.  The two presidents and their first ladies are buried in the crypt beneath United First Parish Church (admission fee charged), which is located a short walk from the National Park Service (NPS) visitor center.

Highlights

Film, trolley ride, Birthplaces of John and John Quincy Adams, Old House at Peace Field, United First Parish Church

Must-Do Activity

Start your visit at the NPS visitor center by watching a short film and purchasing tour tickets, which do not take reservations (so arrive early).  When your tour starts, board a trolley to travel to the two small houses (75 feet apart) where presidents John Adams and his son John Quincy Adams were born.  Next the trolley will take you to the Old House at Peace Field where your tour group splits in two to go inside the mansion and the Stone Library.

Best Trail

The two-hour tour is well orchestrated so no time is wasted, but you can enjoy a glimpse of the formal gardens as your tour group walks to the Stone Library, which houses more than 12,000 books.  If you drive there yourself, you can walk around outside the buildings.

Instagram-worthy Photo

The Carriage House at Peace Field is not part of the guided tour, but you can get a good photograph of it from where the trolley picks you up and drops you off.

Peak Season

Summer

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/adam/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

$15 per person for tour or free with the America the Beautiful pass

Road Conditions

There is a parking garage near the NPS visitor center that allows free parking when you get your ticket validated by an NPS employee.

Camping

About 400 developed campsites are available at Wompatuck State Park, located 11 miles southeast of Quincy, Massachusetts.

Related Sites

Boston National Historical Park (Massachusetts)

Minute Man National Historical Park (Massachusetts)

Salem Maritime National Historic Site (Massachusetts)

Explore More – John and Abigail Adams moved into the Old House in 1788, but when was it originally built?

Martin Van Buren National Historic Site

Overview

Martin Van Buren was the eighth President of the United States and the first to be born after it became a country in 1776.  The “little magician” started as a tavern-keeper’s son in Kinderhook, New York, then worked his way up to state senator, state attorney general, U.S. senator, governor, secretary of state, vice president, and president from 1837 to 1841.  During his presidency, he purchased the estate of “Lindenwald” (named for its linden or basswood trees) in his hometown and ran his unsuccessful presidential campaigns of 1844 and 1848 from there. 

Highlights

Lindenwald mansion, film, Kinderhook Dutch Reformed Cemetery

Must-Do Activity

National Park Service (NPS) rangers provide free guided tours inside the 36-room Gothic Revival mansion where Martin Van Buren lived from 1841 until his death in 1862.  One highlight is the elaborate French wallpaper in the dining room depicting a hunting scene.  We were assured by our tour guide that it is an apocryphal story that the saying “O.K.” came from Van Buren’s nickname “Old Kinderhook.”  We are still not convinced.

Best Trail

A 0.75-mile interpretive trail winds through some of the park’s 300 acres.  You can also visit Martin Van Buren’s grave by driving to Kinderhook Dutch Reformed Cemetery.

Instagram-worthy Photo

The lighting can be difficult for photography inside the mansion, but be sure to snap a picture of the many levels of stairs inside.

Peak Season

Summer

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/mava/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All roads paved

Camping

Lake Taghkanic State Park offers a campground 15 miles southeast of Kinderhook, New York.

Related Sites

Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site (New York)

Fort Stanwix National Monument (New York)

Saratoga National Historical Park (New York)

Explore More – Martin Van Buren helped establish the Democratic party, but he ran for president in 1848 as the nominee for what other political party?

General Grant National Memorial

Overview

Often referred to as Grant’s Tomb, this 150-foot tall marble and granite rotunda is the largest mausoleum in North America.  Following his death in 1885, the rotunda was constructed in less than two years with donations from 90,000 individuals worldwide, the largest ever public fundraising effort at the time.  It is located on a bluff overlooking the Hudson River in the Morningside Heights area of Manhattan, where Grant spent the final five years of his life after serving two terms as President (1868-1876).

Highlights

Museum, film, tomb

Must-Do Activity

The Overlook Pavilion is separate from the rotunda and offers a few exhibits and a film about Ulysses S. Grant (plus you can put your head in an oversized $50 bill which typically bears Grant’s face).  The rotunda contains the tombs of Ulysses and his wife (Julia) who passed in 1902, as well as murals and bronze busts of fellow Civil War generals. 

Best Trail

None

Instagram-worthy Photo

Outside the rotunda is long curving bench with mosaic images (a la Gaudi) depicting different aspects of the National Park Service (NPS) system.

Peak Season

Summer

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/gegr/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All roads are paved, but it is better to take the subway to get to this area.

Camping

There is camping available within Gateway National Recreation Area, which is managed by the NPS.

Related Sites

Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site (Missouri)

Hamilton Grange National Memorial (New York)

Statue of Liberty National Monument (New York)

Explore More –Julia Grant requested that which feature never be added to the rotunda?