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I read that George Washington wanted US Presidents to be regular citizens. That’s also why he chose only to serve two terms. While the framers of the constitution debated what to call the President, titles such as “Your Highness” and other more elaborate titles used in Europe at the time surfaced. But, George Washington believed the simple “Mr. President” or “Madame President” was much more appropriate for the new country. Keep reading for Presidential Locations & Unique Observations.
Despite that informality, Americans (myself included) are obsessed with presidential sites.
I want to present to you my faithful readers, my take on Presidential Locations & Unique Observations. While I have not yet visited all these locations, I took most of the photos below (except where noted in the caption) and will expand on the details as I see more of them. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did on the journeys. Here’s a link to an earlier post about Mount Vernon.
John Adams became the second US President in 1797 upon completing George Washington’s second term. And I placed the house picture above. Still, I may replace it with Mount Vernon when I find a good image of it! Of course, I could find hundreds of them, but I want the image to be one I’ve taken. (However, I have included a few royalty-free photos where I didn’t have a picture and am unlikely to get back that way.)
- George Washington – 1789 to 1797
- John Adams – 1797 to 1801
- Thomas Jefferson – 1801 to 1809
- James Madison – 1809 to 1817
- James Monroe – 1817 to 1825
- John Quincy Adams – 1825 to 1829
- Andrew Jackson – 1829 to 1837
- Martin Van Buren – 1837 to 1841
- William Henry Harrison – 1841 to 1841
- John Tyler – 1841 to 1845
- James K. Polk – 1845 to 1849
- Zachary Taylor – 1849 to 1850
- Millard Fillmore – 1850 to 1853
- Franklin Pierce – 1853 to 1857
- James Buchanan – 1857 to 1861
- Abraham Lincoln – 1861 to 1865
- Andrew Johnson – 1865 to 1869
- Ulysses S. Grant – 1869 to 1877
- Rutherford B. Hayes – 1877 to 1881
- James A. Garfield – 1881 to 1881
- Chester A. Arthur – 1881 to 1885
- Grover Cleveland – 1885 to 1889 & 1893 to 1897
- Benjamin Harrison – 1889-1893
- William McKinley – 1897 to 1901
- Theodore Roosevelt – 1901 to 1909
- William H. Taft – 1909 to 1913
- Woodrow Wilson – 1913 to 1921
- Warren G. Harding – 1921 to 1923
- Calvin Coolidge – 1923 to 1929
- Herbert C. Hoover – 1929 to 1933
- Franklin D. Roosevelt – 1933 to 1945
- Harry S. Truman – 1945 to 1953
- Dwight D. Eisenhower – 1953 to 1961
- John F. Kennedy – 1961 to 1963
- Lyndon B. Johnson – 1963 to 1969
- Richard M. Nixon – 1969 to 1974
- Gerald R. Ford – 1974 to 1977
- James Earl Carter – 1977 to 1981
- Ronald Reagan – 1981 to 1989
- George H. W. Bush – 1989 to 1993
- William J. Clinton – 1993 to 2001
- George W. Bush – 2001 to 2009
- Barack H. Obama – 2009 to 2017
- Donald J. Trump – 2017 to 2021
- Joseph R. Biden, Jr. – 2021 to Present
- “Not So” Classic Rock Recollection
Eighteen Century – Presidential Locations & Unique Observations
George Washington – 1789 to 1797
I’ll publish a Mount Vernon post later. I didn’t visit here on my recent trip; my only pictures are from the 1980s!
Georgia Washington held an almost God-like status during his later years. Many portraits portraying him give that impression. He was unanimously elected President in 1789. Washington received all 69 electoral votes available at the time. He remains the only Independent candidate to be elected US President.
John Adams – 1797 to 1801
And John & Dolly Madison’s retirement home. They moved here when his presidency ended. It’s still in Quincy, MA. The National Park Service staffs and maintains the properties. Both this property and the two homes.
During Adams’s bid for reelection, politics entered the process. Even some in his party rejected his ideas. Therefore, he became the first president to lose a reelection bid! Of course!
Pre-Civil War – Presidential Locations & Unique Observations
Thomas Jefferson – 1801 to 1809
Thomas Jefferson owned and lived in Monticello from 1770. The property remained his until he died in 1826. Of course, interruptions occurred when he attended the business of the US government. The foggy day contributed to a view not often seen when visiting. And definitely not portrayed!
Overall, as great as it’s portrayed. And the maintenance today is excellent as well. Here’s a link to the post.
James Madison – 1809 to 1817
And James Madison inherited Montpelier in 1801 upon his father’s death. His mother continued to live in the home until her death. She retained separate quarters. Obviously, Madison spent much of his time in Washington, DC. He became Jefferson’s Secretary of State and succeeded him as President when Jefferson’s terms ended. Here’s a link to the post.
James Monroe – 1817 to 1825
And, James Monroe followed James Madison into the Presidency. He lived in Virginia as well. His home in Fredericksburg continues to be a museum and memorial to his life. In today’s world, it’s about an hour’s drive into DC. In Monroe’s time, an all-day trip! Here’s the link to the post.
John Quincy Adams – 1825 to 1829
So, John Quincy Adams’ father, John Adams, received this house from his father as a wedding gift. Then his children started life here. He lived in Europe while his father served there. Upon returning to the US, he established a legal practice in Boston.
Andrew Jackson – 1829 to 1837
Andrew Jackson became the first president from west of the Appalachian Mountains. Although he grew up in the Carolinas, he spent much of his adult life as a Tennessee resident. He served as a General in the US Army during the Civil War. And as a US Representative and as a US Senator before his presidency. Here is the link for more information.
Martin Van Buren – 1837 to 1841
Although Martin Van Buren lived in New York State most of his life, I didn’t see his house, museum, or anything connected with him on any trip I’ve taken to that area. Someday, I’ll write a post and look for a royalty-free picture.
In the meantime, here’s a link.
William Henry Harrison – 1841 to 1841
William Henry Harrison built a beautiful, federal-style home in Vincennes, IN, when he served as governor of Indiana Territory. Due to his military career, Harrison lived in many places. Originally born in Virginia, he lived in Ohio and Indiana, as well as short-term army posts. His father signed the Declaration of Independence.
Harrison became the first US President to die in office. He died in 1841, having served less than a month. John Tyler became President upon his death.
His son John lived in the house in the 1820s. John became the father of Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd President of the US. I did not visit this house due to refurbishing the house, and it was closed. Here’s a link. By the way, Harrison became the last President born a British subject.
John Tyler – 1841 to 1845
Interestingly, John Tyler succeeded to the presidency upon the death of William Henry Harrison. During the presidential campaign, Tyler became a compromise candidate, a southern and pro-slavery candidate to offset Harrison’s frontier, military, and non-slavery background. Of course, no one expected him to become President less than a month after his inauguration. And he didn’t win reelection. Here’s a link to the individual post.
Ironically, he later served in the Confederate House of Representatives.
James K. Polk – 1845 to 1849
Although born in North Carolina, he spent most of his adult life as a resident of Tennessee. His former home in Columbia, TN, serves as his presidential museum.
Although he claimed to keep all his campaign promises, many of his policies contributed to the Civil War. More on him in the upcoming post.
Zachary Taylor – 1849 to 1850
Zachary Taylor spent most of his life as a Kentucky resident. Although he was born in Virginia, his family moved to Kentucky in infancy. He served 40 years in the Army, becoming a general and a war hero. His military victory and his ambivalent record on slavery made him unpopular in the south. He also had detractors in the north since he hadn’t taken a stand.
However, during the presidential election, a third party drew support away from his opponent, and he won the election. His nationalistic views led him to suppress secession by southerners by promising federal troops to put down any rebellion quickly and violently.
Taylor fell ill on July 4th, 1850, and died five days later. His Vice President, Millard Fillmore, succeeded him. Due to his short term in office, history generally gives him a pass on whether he became a “good” president or a “bad” president. Read more about Zachary Tayler here.
By the way, the house shown above is the only existing place related to Taylor. The house remains a private residence in a Louisville, KY, residential area.
Millard Fillmore – 1850 to 1853
Millard Fillmore succeeded to the presidency upon the death of Zachary Taylor. Fillmore grew up (and was born) in poverty in the Finger Lakes area of New York. Born in a log cabin, Fillmore appealed to those fascinated by frontier life and the stories of people rising to prominence from poverty.
He operated a successful law practice near his home and Buffalo, NY. After serving in the US House of Representatives, he returned to New York until he was selected for the vice presidency, where Zachary Taylor primarily ignored him.
Franklin Pierce – 1853 to 1857
Franklin Pierce served in the US House and the US Senate from New Hampshire. He took part in the Mexican-American War as a General. His nomination for the presidency became a compromise between competing factions in his party.
While President, he attempted to take neutral stances on particularly contentious issues. However, his popularity declined sharply after he supported the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which nullified the Missouri Compromise. His actions exacerbated conditions leading to the Civil War, as did several other presidents.
Civil War & Beyond – Presidential Locations & Unique Observations
James Buchanan – 1857 to 1861
On my trip to the eastern states, I missed James Buchanan’s house and museum. I didn’t realize it was so close to my route. My research (wrongly) showed me it was over 200 miles of extra driving to visit.
His presidency became an exercise in trying to appease both sides (north and south) and, in the process, angered both sides. Historians and scholars rank him as one of the worst presidents in American history. His presidency also contributed to the beginning of the Civil War.
By the way, he’s the only President who never married.
Abraham Lincoln – 1861 to 1865
Although I passed through Springfield, IL, on my way home, I neglected to stop at the Lincoln Museum. We visited the museum back in 2013. We saw most of the history related to Lincoln during our visit.
At some point, I’ll dig into my “archives” and publish a post about Abraham Lincoln. Here’s a picture from the square near the Old Capitol Building.
Here’s a link to more about one of the greatest presidents we’ve ever had!
Andrew Johnson – 1865 to 1869
Andrew Johnson grew up in North Carolina. Although he belonged to a different party than Lincoln, the party picked him, a southerner, to attempt to mollify southerners. Johnson ascended to the presidency upon the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
Johnson grew up in poverty in Raleigh, North Carolina, apprenticing as a tailor, but worked on the “frontier” in Tennessee. He eventually became a US House member from Tennessee and later a US Senator.
Ulysses S. Grant – 1869 to 1877
Interestingly, the Ulysses S. Grant Museum and Library resides at Mississippi State University in Starkville, MS. And it’s only been there for about ten years. His information and artifacts were stored in many different places, and there wasn’t a formal place to visit.
Mississippi State requested the collections as the University wanted to be known as a preeminent place to study US Presidents. During the discussion, the University also acquired an extensive collection of Lincoln artifacts. Significantly, Mississippi State needed a presidential library!
Rutherford B. Hayes – 1877 to 1881
Rutherford B. Hayes served in the Civil War, rising to the rank of Major General. Even while serving, the citizens of Ohio elected him to the US House of Representatives. He served one term and then three terms as Governor of Ohio. In 1876, he ran for President. The most contested election in US history wasn’t confirmed until January 1877. He won by one electoral vote.
Hayes promised in advance to only serve one term if elected. In 1881, he retired to his Ohio home. For the remainder of his life, he became an advocate for social and educational reform. Some said his most significant achievements became the restoration of popular faith in the presidency.
James A. Garfield – 1881 to 1881
Garfield became the last log cabin president in 1881. He won back a measure of prestige the presidency lost during Reconstruction. While he only served about 200 days as President, his presidency did impact the nation.
He lost his father at two years of age, and the family struggled to eat regularly. With a tireless work ethic, he helped support the family and obtained a college education. He also served the Union during the Civil War, rising to the rank of General at the age of 31. Lincoln persuaded him to resign his commission and run for US House from Ohio, where he served until elected President.
Chester A. Arthur – 1881 to 1885
Chester A. Arthur’s home in northern Vermont remained “COVID closed” while I visited Burlington, VT, south of the museum. It’s nearly a three-hour round trip from Burlington to visit it. This is one that I’m unlikely to see. However, I may look up some royalty-free images and publish a post about Arthur.
Sometime… In the meantime, here’s a link.
Grover Cleveland – 1885 to 1889 & 1893 to 1897
Grover Cleveland’s house in Princeton, NJ, remains a private residence. When I visited, the owners agreed to use the home for a charity event. At least I could walk up the driveway!
Grover Cleveland is the only President to serve a term, lose his reelection bid and run again, and win, four years later. Although he planned to run again after his second term, his party deserted him, and he went off to retirement in Princeton.
Benjamin Harrison – 1889-1893
Harrison served as President between Grover Cleveland’s two terms. He conducted a campaign of “front-porch” speeches. Because he rarely ventured out of his home area. As you can see, he had a great front porch! Initially, he practiced law in Indianapolis after attending Miami University in Ohio. His grandfather, Willian Henry Harrison, served as President for 32 days before dying in office in 1841. (Here is a link to the post.)
William McKinley – 1897 to 1901
William McKinley became President in 1897 after serving in the US House as a representative from Ohio and two terms as Governor of Ohio. Before his congressional service, he enlisted in the Army as a private when the Civil War broke out. He left the Army as a Major when the war ended.
Before his government service, he studied law and opened a law office in Canton, OH. His museum and memorial stand in Canton, OH. By the way, it’s near the NFL Hall of Fame!
Twenty Century to the Great Depression – Presidential Locations & Unique Observations
Theodore Roosevelt – 1901 to 1909
Theodore Roosevelt’s birth in Manhattan belied his “cowboy” persona brought about by his leadership of the Rough Riders, his time ranching in North Dakota, and his naturalist avocation. His first wife and mother died on the same night in 1884. He recuperated from the devastating losses by owning and operating a cattle ranch in western North Dakota.
Over the years, he continued a love affair with the area. Today, a National Park in the western North Dakota Badlands bears his name. It’s the only National Park in the system named after a person. The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Museum construction begins in 2022 in Medora, North Dakota, near Theodore Roosevelt National Park. (More about this unusual location for a presidential museum in the upcoming post.)
William H. Taft – 1909 to 1913
Taft became the only person to hold the office of US President and Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court. His first love became the law at an early age. He graduated from Yale and returned to Cincinnati to study and practice law.
He much preferred law over politics, but his wife and his particular skills of administration in leadership positions led him to the presidency. He’s another Ohio president of the seven or eight, depending on who is doing the counting! Here’s a link to more information about Taft.
Woodrow Wilson – 1913 to 1921
Woodrow Wilson lived in Virginia only for the first couple of years of his life. He grew up in Georgia, primarily around Augusta. Wilson became an academic and earned a Ph.D. in political science from Johns Hopkins University. He also served as President of Princeton University and Governor of New Jersey before becoming President.
After supporting neutrality during WWI, he brought the US into WWI to “make the world safe for democracy.” He made an all-out campaign to approve the Treaty of Versailles, which he had already signed, and which created the League of Nations. Congress rejected the treaty, and the League of Nations was doomed.
Warren G. Harding – 1921 to 1923
Warren G. Harding followed Woodrow Wilson into the presidency. He became another president from Ohio, of which there were eight who were elected from Ohio. There are more presidents from Ohio than any other state. Although Virginia claims to have eight and Ohio only had seven born in Ohio.
And that’s because William Henry Harrison was born in Virginia but lived in Ohio and was “elected from” Ohio! More on that in the post.
Some people claim that Harding’s only claim to fame as President was that he “looked presidential”!
Calvin Coolidge – 1923 to 1929
The Calvin Coolidge library in western Massachusetts “lives” in a public library. It’s the only presidential library to be located in a public library. There is no security and not very much to indicate it’s a president’s library. Coolidge ascended to the presidency upon the death of Warren G. Harding.
Born in Plymouth, Vermont, Coolidge graduated from Amherst College and entered law and politics in Northhampton, MA. He climbed the political ladder from city councilman to Governor of Massachusetts. Typical of his quiet ways, he announced while vacationing in South Dakota in 1928, “I do not choose to run for President in 1928.”
Great Depression to Viet Nam – Presidential Locations & Unique Observations
Herbert C. Hoover – 1929 to 1933
In 1874, Hoover became the first president born west of the Mississippi River. West Branch, Iowa, became his “home of record,” including the location of the presidential library and museum and his burial place. His parents were Quakers, and he grew up in the church. Although he consistently attended school, the Bible was the only reading he did outside of class.
When he was six years old, his father died. And when he was 11, his mother died. As a result, he and his two siblings lived with his uncle Allen at a nearby farm. Eighteen months later, young Herbert went to Newburg, Oregon, to live with another uncle. John Minthorn, a Quaker physician and businessman, treated him like his own son. Although he never lived in Iowa again, he considered it home. Besides being President, he had a long and highly successful career. (More in the post.)
Franklin D. Roosevelt – 1933 to 1945
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR as he became known) grew up in Hyde Park, NY. North of New York City and south of Albany. He directed the Federal government during the Great Depression and into WWII. His landslide election in 1932 led to the implementation of his New Deal programs of government spending on public works projects to get people back to work.
He became the only President elected to a third term in 1940. And his presidency from then until his death in office in 1945 became embroiled in WWII. With the passing of the 22nd Amendment in 1947, he also became the last US President to serve more than two terms. Due to his efforts on behalf of the economy and the war, his presidency had a profound impact on the US.
Harry S. Truman – 1945 to 1953
The Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum resides in Independence, Missouri, near Kansas City. The museum is just off I-35, on the way for another visit to my sister-in-law in western Kansas. Someday we’ll stop and take it in!
Dwight D. Eisenhower – 1953 to 1961
Abilene, Kansas, provides a home to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum. While I haven’t visited it, the museum is just off I-70 and on the way to see the same sister-in-law as above. Someday soon, I’ll visit.
John F. Kennedy – 1961 to 1963
We visited the John F. Kennedy Museum in Library in September of 2016 while on a road trip primarily focused on Boston and Maine. For me, the trip crossed off a bucket list item! I have the pictures and memories, so I’ll publish a post in the future. Sometime…
Lyndon B. Johnson – 1963 to 1969
The University of Texas hosts the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum. I have not visited this one.
Richard M. Nixon – 1969 to 1974
We visited this museum in March of 2019 during a visit to my sister-in-law’s place in Anaheim, CA. It’s fascinating to visit the museum and view all of the great things Nixon accomplished in his early presidency. For example, the opening of China to the West. Another example is that school segregation in the south went from about 20% to about 85% during his presidency.
And after all the good he did, to see his reputation tumbling down with Watergate is heartbreaking. But his actions caused that to happen. Here is a link to the already published post. Nixon was a flawed, complicated man. Later, other presidents sought his expertise in foreign affairs.
Beyond Viet Nam to today – Presidential Locations & Unique Observations
Gerald R. Ford – 1974 to 1977
Gerald R. Ford became the 38th US President upon the resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974. Ford’s mother separated from his father just 16 days after his birth in 1913 and moved from his birth city of Omaha, NE, to Oak Park, IL. From there, they moved to Grand Rapids, MI, where she met and eventually married Gerald Rudolf Ford when young Gerald was four years old. He became known as Gerald Rudolff Ford, Jr. However, Ford never legally adopted him, but his name legally changed in 1935.
Ford served in the US Navy during WWII, serving in many battles while onboard the aircraft carrier USS Monterey. After the war, he returned to Grand Rapids and, in 1949, began a 25-year career in the US House of Representatives. His stated goal became being elected the Speaker of the House, which he never achieved, but he became the House Minority Leader from 1965 to 1973 when President Nixon appointed him to fill the Vice Presidential position created by the resignation of Spiro Agnew.
James Earl Carter – 1977 to 1981
James Earl “Jimmy” Carter became President upon defeating Gerald R. Ford in the 1976 Presidential election. (I still remember the day I received a speeding ticket on election day!) He went from a relatively unknown peanut farmer to a low-profile governor of Georgia. One of his campaign signs read “Jimmy Who?”!
Carter only served one term. His crowning achievement became his negotiated peace accord between Israel and Egypt. His undoing became the hostage situation in Iran. The situation continued for 444 days. The hostage release occurred literally minutes after President Reagan officially took office.
Ronald Reagan – 1981 to 1989
I visited the Ronald Reagan Museum in 2020 when visiting my sister-in-law and her husband in California. We took a day to see the museum, but I haven’t written a post about it yet. I do have the pictures! “Someday,” I’ll publish a post!
George H. W. Bush – 1989 to 1993
Texas A&M hosts the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. The grounds contain the burial site for the President and former First Lady. I have not visited this museum.
William J. Clinton – 1993 to 2001
The William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum includes the Clinton Foundation and the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. I have not visited this one.
George W. Bush – 2001 to 2009
The George W. Bush Presidential Museum and Library found a home at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. I have not visited this one.
Barack H. Obama – 2009 to 2017
Construction began on the Obama Presidential Library and Museum in Chicago in August 2021. Jackson Park became the designated site in 2016, but formal approval didn’t occur until 2021.
Donald J. Trump – 2017 to 2021
A non-profit or the former President’s family must raise money to build a museum and library for a former president. So, no Presidential Locations & Unique Observations here!
Given his divisive nature and presidency, will there be one built? (I’m not getting into THAT argument!)
Joseph R. Biden, Jr. – 2021 to Present
There is nothing historically dedicated to a sitting president. (And no Presidential Locations & Unique Observations here either!)
“Not So” Classic Rock Recollection
“Hail to the Chief” played for the President of the United States
Hail to the Chief we have chosen for the nation,
Hail to the Chief! We salute him, one and all.
Hail to the Chief, as we pledge cooperation
In proud fulfillment of a great, noble call.
Yours is the aim to make this grand country grander,
This you will do, that is our strong, firm belief.
Hail to the one we selected as commander,
Hail to the President! Hail to the Chief!
The lyrics evolved, with the current lyrics written by Albert Gamse. The lyrics are rarely sung! (And that wraps up Presidential Locations & Unique Observations.)