“Presidents Day” is nearly upon us again. Time to dwell on the immortal deeds of David Rice Atchison. Just kidding. I don’t care what’s on his tombstone, he never held the office. Snopes has a long-winded discussion of the matter, but covers it pretty well.
Ten years ago I was long-winded myself when I wrote that “one of my travel hobbies, whenever it’s possible — and it isn’t too often — is to visit presidential sites. I’ve only been doing this since about 1996, so I can’t call it a life-long pursuit. And I rarely go out of my way to see a presidential site. But if it’s around, I’ll seek it out.”
Then I listed the sites I’ve managed to see, with a little commentary. I will update the list here, with places visited in the last 10 years italicized, plus more links than anyone’s likely to care about. It occurs to me that I haven’t added very many over the last decade. I’d need to spend more time on the East Coast, Virginia in particular, to run up the total, or closer at hand, Ohio.
Washington Monument, DC. Inspired by Egypt, hotbed of democracy. But a fine work all the same; Federal Hall, Wall Street, New York. Site of Washington’s first inauguration.
Monticello. Fascinating place, but I understand that home improvements drove Jefferson into penury; Jefferson Memorial, DC.
The Hermitage, Jackson‘s home in Nashville. Made quite an impression on me when I was 8. Still good as an adult.
Tippecanoe Battlefield, where Wm. Henry Harrison won his fame. The best diversion on the dull drive between Chicago and Indianapolis. More details here.
Polk‘s grave, Nashville. A neglected president, because his style of imperialism is out of fashion.
Lincoln‘s tomb, home (Springfield, Ill.); Lincoln Memorial, Ford’s Theater (DC); Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site, Ill., where Lincoln lived as a young man; Lincoln Birthplace, Lincoln Boyhood Home (Ky.); Lincoln’s Landing, Lockport, Ill.; Site of the Wigwam, where Lincoln was nominated, Chicago; Lincoln Museum, Springfield. Hadn’t been opened 10 years ago.
Andrew Johnson‘s birthplace, Raleigh, NC. Andrew Johnson NHS and Andrew Johnson grave, Greeneville, Tenn.
Grant‘s home, Galena, Ill., Grant’s home, St. Louis. At the latter, my brother and I looked around for empty whisky bottles, but no luck; Grant’s tomb, NYC. Well worth seeing.
Hayes‘ home and grave, Fremont, Ohio. The docent was really glad to see me. Stopped there to break up a trip on the interminable Ohio Turnpike.
Benjamin Harrison‘s home, Indianapolis. This docent was glad too. Nice Victorian house; Benjamin Harrison’s grave, Indianapolis. Too simple. Some governors of Indiana had better headstones. (I’m not so sure its simplicity is a bad thing any more; it’s got republican virtue going for it.)
Teddy Roosevelt‘s boyhood home, NYC. A well-done replica of the original brownstone, which actually has a brown exterior.
Taft’s grave, Arlington National Cemetery, Va.
The Blackstone Hotel (Smoke-Filled Room, Harding), Chicago
Hoover Library, Hoover’s birthplace, Hoover’s grave, West Branch, Iowa. I admire Hoover because he was a well-traveled man.
FDR Memorial, DC. Detailed here.
Truman Library, Truman’s home, Truman’s grave, Independence, Mo. There’s something a little odd about being buried on the grounds of your library, but there he is with Bess.
JFK grave, Arlington National Cemetery, Va.; Kennedy death limo, Dearborn, Mich.; Sixth Floor Museum, Dallas (forgot to list this 10 years ago. Yuriko and I went there in 1992).
LBJ ranch, LBJ grave, Stonewall, Tex. The historical re-enactors at the ranch refused to give me, the only visitor, any of the pie they had made. LBJ Library, Austin.
Nixon Library, Nixon’s boyhood home, Nixon’s grave, Yorba Linda, Calif. Where President Nixon lies still.
Ford Museum, Grand Rapids; Ford grave, Grand Rapids. He wasn’t dead yet in 2004.
Carter Library, Atlanta. Every now and then I have a touch of nostalgia for the Carter administration. No mention of the Killer Rabbit incident or Billy Beer at the library, however.
Reagan‘s boyhood home, Dixon, Ill. Bizarre statue next door of Reagan holding kernels of corn.
George HW Bush‘s Kinnebunkport home, Maine. I was a little lost on the coastal roads of Maine that day, I’m pretty sure I saw it from a distance in 1989. I’m surprised I was able to get as close as I did, but I suppose he wasn’t there that day.
Clinton Birthplace, Hope, Ark.
Also, the White House. That would be associated with every president since John Adams.
And the U.S. Capitol. Besides statues of various chief magistrates, there are plaques on the floor in the old House chamber, now Statuary Hall, marking the locations of the desks of J.Q. Adams, Tyler, Polk, Fillmore, Pierce, Buchanan, Lincoln and Andrew Johnson.
Finally, St. John’s Episcopal Church, DC, the church that’s been visited by every sitting president since Madison, complete with a presidential pew and kneeling cushions with the names of presidents on them.