The White House

DSC01787President John Adams, the first official resident of the White House, moved into the house in November 1800. The house was still not quite finished after nine years of construction. (It was a government contract, after all.) In 200 years, the house has endured arson (by British soldiers in 1815), one plane crash, numerous redecorations and renovations, far too many mediocre presidents, and the midnight soliloquies of Richard Nixon. The exterior, a significant example of Federal architecture, remains much as it was in 1800. The guided tours of the famous first-floor rooms show off more historic memorabilia than you will ever be able to absorb.

The White House Visitor Center is located at 1450 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, between 14th and 15th Streets on Pennsylvania Avenue. The Visitor Center is inside the north end of the Department of Commerce Building.

Sarah Whitman Hooker Homestead, Connecticut

The Sarah Whitman Hooker Homestead, built in 1715, is the oldest surviving structure in West Hartford, Connecticut. The house, originally two-story structure with one room on each floor, was expanded several times during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Sarah Whitman Hooker lived in the house with her husband Thomas in the 1770’s. After Thomas died of disease at the siege of Boston in 1775, “the widow Hooker” was asked to lodge two Tory prisoners during the winter of 1775-76. During the winter, Sarah was forced to dissuade some of the townspeople from tarring and feathering her two guests. Sarah Hooker lived until 1830, but sold the house to her children in 1800. (The children later sold it to cousins.) The house is now open to the public on a limited schedule. The interior is furnished as it was during Sarah Whitman Hooker’s residence.

Sarah Whitman Hooker Homestead is located at 1237 New Britain Avenue West Hartford, Connecticut 06107, off Interstate 84 at exit 41.

John Brown House Museum, Rhode Island

The John Brown House Museum is located in a palatial mansion constructed in 1786, and features exhibits on Rhode Island furniture and decorative arts. John Brown (1736-1803) was a merchant and (as was not uncommon among colonial merchants) smuggler who had played an important role in the Gaspee affair of 1772, in which a British revenue ship was burned in a raid. After the Revolution, Brown made a fortune in (among other things) the China trade. The house is maintained and operated by the Rhode Island Historical Society, which has meticulously restored the house, even reproducing its original colors and French wallpapers. Many of the furnishings on display are original Brown family pieces. The John Brown House is also the Rhode Island Historical Society’s headquarters.

The John Brown House Museum is located at 52 Power Street, in Providence, Rhode Island 02906.

Belle Boyd House, West Virginia

The Belle Boyd House in Martinsburg was the girlhood home of Belle Boyd, one of the most famous Confederate spies. She provided valuable military information to General “Stonewall” Jackson during the spring 1862 campaign in the Shenandoah Valley. Her exploits are legend in this region, and in 1992 The Berkeley County Historical Society purchased the home, saved it from destruction and preserved it in her memory. Renovations were completed on the Greek Revival home that was built in 1853 by Belle’s father, Ben Boyd. Today, the premises is the permanent home of The Berkeley County Historical Society and the Berkeley County Historic Landmarks Commission and two museums. Visitors are welcome to browse The Boyd Mason Civil War Museum collections that focus on local Civil War events and Belle Boyd. The Berkeley County Museum presents a general history of the area, and The Archives Section is available for genealogical research. Belle Boyd’s birthday is celebrated on the third weekend each May with a full schedule of Civil War activities.

The Belle Boyd House is located at 126 East Race Street in Martinsburg. WV.

Alamance Battleground, North Carolina

Alamance Battleground preserves the site of an 1771 battle between armed farmers from the North carolina backcountry, called “Regulators,” and the colonial militia led by royal governor William Tryon. The Regulators had a number of grievances against the colonial government. These grievances were not yet, as they would be in a few years, with the form of the government itself, but rather with official abuses such as excessive taxes, dishonest sheriffs, imposition of illegal fees, and even the scarcity of money with which to pay the taxes and fees they owed. The association of “Regulators” was formed in the backcountry in 1768 to address the farmers’ grievances to officials in the eastern part of the colony. When their appeals to the government failed, the Regulators refused to pay taxes and fees, resisted administration of the law, and disrupted court proceedings. Governor Tryon mustered the militia, and marched against the Regulators in the spring of 1771. On May 16, the militia confronted about 2,000 Regulators on the banks of Alamance Creek in the heart of the backcountry. The relatively undisciplined Regulators were completely unable to hold their own against the colonial militia (who were about to prove in a few years that they could not stand in the field against real professional soldiers). The militia lost nine killed and sixty-one wounded; Regulator losses were much greater. Tryon executed seven of the fifteen prisoners he took. Many Regulators moved on to other frontier areas beyond North Carolina. Those who stayed were offered pardons by the governor in exchange for pledging an oath of allegiance to the royal government. Alamance Battleground is preserved today with a granite monument that was erected as a memorial in 1880. The park grounds also contain the Allen House, a log dwelling characteristic of the frontier, built by backcountry farmer John Allen around 1780 for his family. The house was moved to Alamance Battleground and restored after John Allen’s descendants donated it to the state of North Carolina in 1967.

Alamance Battleground is located in Burlington, North Carolina 27215. Burlington is in central North Carolina, off Interstate 40/85 between Durham and Greensboro. From Interstate 40/85 in Burlington take N.C. 62 south (exit 143). Follow the directional signs on N.C. 62 for approximately six miles. The site entrance is located on the right.

Adams National Historic Site, Massachusetts

The first father and son to have both served as U.S. presidents were John and John Quincy Adams. Both John and John Quincy had long and distinguished careers in public service. For both, the presidency was the least successful and probably least satisfying experience in public service. John and John Quincy Adams were the only two one-term presidents among the first six men to hold the offcie. Both were driven from office by the leaders of broad popular movements against the more elitist style of politics represented by the Adamses. The Adams National Historic Site includes the birthplaces of John and John Quincy Adams, as well as the “Old House,” which was home to four generations of the Adams family. The site also includes the United First Parish Church, where both Presidents and their First Ladies are entombed in the Adams family crypt.

From Boston and Route 128: Traveling south on U.S. Interstate 93 or Route 128, take exit 7 – Route 3 south to Braintree and Cape Cod. Take the first exit off Route 3 south – exit 18, Washington Street and the Quincy Adams T. Continue straight on Burgin Parkway through six sets of traffic lights. At the seventh set of traffic lights, turn right onto Dimmock Street. Follow Dimmock Street one block to the intersection of Hancock Street. Turn right onto Hancock Street. The National Park Service Visitor Center, located in the Galleria at President’s Place is two blocks on your left, 1250 Hancock Street. Parking is in the garage in the rear of the building, turn left just before the building. From Cape Cod: Traveling north on Route 3, take exit 19, Quincy Adams T. Quincy Center. Continue straight on Burgin Parkway through six sets of traffic lights. At the seventh set of traffic lights, turn right on to Dimmock Street. Follow Dimmock Street one block to the intersection of Hancock Street. Turn right on to Hancock Street. The National Park Service Visitor Center located in the Galleria at Presidents Place is two blocks on your left, 1250 Hancock Street. Validated parking is in the garage in the rear of the building, turn left just before the building.

Monticello

The famous home of Thomas Jefferson was a work-in-progress during most of Jefferson’s lifetime, designed and redesigned, built and rebuilt over more than forty years. Jefferson described the house as his ‘essay in architecture.’ The final product is a monument to Enlightenment rationality and the cultivation of a refined and 5centscontemplative way of life. The home and grounds are now lovingly (that’s not too strong a word) maintained by the private Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation. The waiting line for entrance to the house can be two or even three hours long during the summer. It’s worth it, but even a stroll around the grounds is rewarding if you don’t have the time to wait. The guides are very well informed, so ask lots of questions. Don’t ask about Sally Hemings, though (somebody will bring that up anyway). Ask about the contributions of slave labor to Jefferson’s way of life, and why he (unlike Washington and Madison) did not free all his slaves in his will.

Located in the Virginia Piedmont, Monticello is about two miles southeast of Charlottesville and approximately 125 miles from Washington, D.C.; 110 miles from Williamsburg, Virginia; and 70 miles from Richmond, Virginia. From Interstate 64, take exit 121 (if traveling westbound) or 121 A (eastbound) to Route 20 South (If traveling westbound, turn south, or left, on Route 20). To go to the Monticello Visitors Center, turn right at the first stoplight. To go to Monticello, turn left on Route 53, just after the first stoplight. The entrance to Monticello is located on the left, approximately one and a half miles from Route 20.

Harry S Truman National Historic Site, Missouri

Harry S Truman (1884-1972), 33rd President of the United States, lived from 1919 until his death in a white Victorian house at 219 North Delaware Street in Independence, Missouri. The house was known as the “Summer White House” during the Truman administration (1945-1953). Harry S Truman National Historic Site includes the Independence home and the Truman Farm Home in Grandview, Missouri, both within the Kansas City metropolitan area. Built in 1894 by Harry Truman’s maternal grandmother, the Farm Home is the centerpiece of a 5.25-acre remnant of the family’s former 600-acre farm. Mr. Truman worked the farm as a young man, from 1906-1917.

The visitor center is located at the intersection of Truman Road and Main Street, in historic Fire Station No.1. From the north or south, take I-435 to the Truman Road exit. Travel east on Truman Road three miles (you’ll pass the Truman Home at Delaware Street). From the east or west, take I-70 to the Noland Road exit. Travel north on Noland Road four miles to Truman Road. Turn west on Truman Road and travel two blocks. To Grandview: The Truman Farm Home is located amid the retail and commercial district along Blue Ridge Boulevard. From the east or west, take I-435 and exit southbound on Route 71. From the north or south, travel Route 71 and take the Blue Ridge Boulevard exit. Travel west one mile. The Farm Home is on the left, set back from the road.

William Faulkner’s Rowan Oak, Mississippi

Rowan Oak, William Faulkner’s beloved antebellum home and refuge, attracts enthusiasts from around the world. He purchased the home in 1930 and named it “Rowan Oak” after Scottish lore that promised good fortune to homeowners who displayed a rowan oak branch on their door. A major figure in American literature, William Faulkner (1897-1962) was inspired by his Oxford surroundings when he created the fictional characters of his Yoknapatawpha County. For his accumulated work he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1950 and the Pulitzer Price in 1955 and posthumously in 1963. Today, Rowan Oak is owned by the University of Mississippi and open to visitors.

Location and Directions

Links: Rowan Oak

Edison National Historic Site, New Jersey

The name Thomas Alva Edison is practically synonomous with “inventor.” For forty years, Edison worked in a laboratory in West Orange, New Jersey, where he and his research colleagues created the motion picture camera, vastly improved phonographs, sound recordings, silent and sound movies and the nickel-iron alkaline electric storage battery. Edison National Historic Site Edison’s research laboratory and his home, Glenmont. Among many other attractions, the site now features an exciting new audio preservation studio that will make it possible to transfer many of rarest and fragile historic sound recordings at the Edison laboratory from their original formats to a modern, archival-quality audio format.

Location and Directions

Links Edison National Historic Site