Sure, dropping by the White House expecting to be invited to come in and join all the Presidential fun is something completely out of reach to most mortals. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take a look into how America’s former commanders in chief used to live.
That’s right, there are plenty of houses where you’re encouraged to learn more about how many U.S. presidents grew up back when were just regular citizens. For Presidents’ Day. Join us on this trip to visit a few examples of former presidents’ homes and be ready to take a look into the more personal side of these people who once ruled the free world.
Adams National Historical Park — Quincy, MA
The Adams National Historical Park honors not one but two of America’s earliest presidents. The 8.5-acre site is the birthplace of the second President John Adams as well as his son, John Quincy Adams, who was the sixth president. During their respective terms, both chief executives made indelible marks on the history of the United States. While the elder Adams greatly increased the power of the national government, John Quincy Adams worked to improve the country’s infrastructure by building canals and roads.
Adams National Historical Park honors the father-son presidential duo by preserving the domestic aspect of their lives. The park contains 11 buildings, including the birthplaces of both presidents and the Stone Library, built by the son of John Quincy Adams to house his father’s thousands of books. Perhaps the most stunning building of all at the site is Peacefield, a Georgian style mansion that was purchased by the elder Adams in 1787 and subsequently housed four generations of the Adams family.
Nixon Presidential Library and Museum — Yorba Linda, CA
While Richard Nixon is certainly one of the more nefarious presidents in United States history, he nevertheless made indelible contributions to American life that are still felt today. In addition to founding the Environmental Protection Agency, Nixon also deescalated tensions with China and even helped pass the 26th Amendment, lowering the voting age to 18.
The Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum is built on the site of Nixon’s birth, a testament to the humble beginnings of the 37th president. The 900-square-foot home was built from a kit by Nixon’s father, who worked as a citrus farmer. Adjacent to the birthplace is the resting place of the former president and his wife Pat. The Nixon Museum contains countless artifacts from his life and presidency. Among the biggest draws at the institution are Nixon’s Sea King helicopter and a full-size replica of the Oval Office as it would have appeared during Nixon’s presidency.
Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park — Central Texas
Lyndon Johnson took the reins of the presidency following the assassination of the much beloved John F. Kennedy. Despite this tragic beginning, Johnson devoted his time in the Oval Office to serving the American people. Johnson is best known for his Great Society, a series of reforms aimed at reducing poverty in America’s most vulnerable communities. The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park in Texas is divided into two locations approximately 14 miles apart. Johnson’s Boyhood Home in Johnson City is fully restored to appear as it did in the 1910s and 20s when Johnson was a child, with tours focusing on rural life during the era.
Meanwhile, the LBJ Ranch in Stonewall offers plenty of information for those interested in Johnson’s life. While the park’s visitor center features several exhibits on the former president, driving tours of the massive compound feature stops at Johnson’s birthplace, his personal home known as the Texas White House, and the Johnson family cemetery where he and his wife, affectionately known as Lady Bird, were laid to rest.
You may also like: Test Your Knowledge With This US Presidents Quiz!
President James K. Polk Home and Museum — Columbia, TN
As the eleventh president, James Polk may have only served one term, but he nevertheless made profound contributions to the history of the United States. Best known as a proponent of the concept of Manifest Destiny, Polk led the United States through the Mexican-American War of 1846 to 1848, greatly increasing the size of the United States following the Mexican Cession of California and territories that now make up the American Southwest. After finishing his term in 1849, Polk settled in his family home in Columbia, Tennessee where he died of cholera three months later.
The home is now a museum, and travelers interested in Polk’s presidential history will get a full understanding of the commander-in-chief’s life and long legacy at Polk’s residence. Featuring Federal-style architecture and a beautiful garden, the Polk home houses some of the former president’s personal possessions, including paintings, furniture, and even china used in the Polk White House. The visitor center also includes a timeline detailing every major moment in Polk’s life, while the nearby Polk Presidential Hall features rotating exhibits of major milestones in his administration.
Do you have a favorite presidential homestead that you’ve visited? Tell us about it in the comments below!
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