The Cool House: The Summer White House

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Summer White House

I did squeeze in one local culture experience on my vacation at home. On Thursday morning I visited Teddy Roosevelt's home Sagamore Hill at Oyster Bay Cove, 10 minutes from The Cool House.
I've taken visitors to the grounds many times before but this was the first time I'd toured the house and it was worth at least double the $5 fee. Firstly you get a NPS ranger as tour guide and they are always informative but our guide Robert Erhlich had so many stories about the house and the artifacts that we were there much longer than planned. There is the house itself, which is one of the best preserved Victorian Shingle-style homes in the US, with its gas lighted dining room, dark wood paneling, and exterior ice house. Everything in the house, with the exception of the rugs, some drapes and the back staircase, is original. Then there are the public rooms filled with the souvenirs of TR Roosevelt's life, as New York politician, explorer, Rough Rider and President. Elephant tusks (a gift from the King of Ethiopia, Polar and Grizzly bear rugs, the Presidential flag represent just part of the unique decor you'll find here. Even the room where Elinor Roosevelt stayed when her parents died is preserved as it was, complete with a signature quilt made by her closest friends.

Roosevelt and his second wife Edith Kermit Carow moved into Sagamore Hill in 1887, eventually raising six children there, including Alice, from his first marriage. When Roosevelt became the youngest president in 1902 after the McKinley's assassination he re-named the Executive Mansion in Washington DC "The White House" and the installation of a telephone at Sagamore Hill that kept the President in touch with the Capital permitted the family to reside on Long Island during the summer months. Sagamore Hill became known as the Summer White House.
If you love old houses, taxidermy, history or good yarns and have an opportunity to visit Long Island, or if you live near here and didn't know about it, beg or borrow $5 and invest it in a tour. You won't be disappointed.
Sagamore Hill NHS 12 Sagamore Hill Road, Oyster Bay, NY 11771 is open to visitors from Wednesday through Sunday each week (closed Mondays & Tuesdays). House tours on the hour 10 AM-4 PM.

1 comment:

Marilyn said...

I have always wanted to visit Sagamore Hill. Thanks for the virtual info tour!