After being closed for code updates, the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace, a wee national park, has reopened, and I have finally gotten there for a tour. The guide was not a park ranger, but a very knowledgeable volunteer guide.
What I loved about the house also makes it hard to show you what it’s like. It’s as dimly lit as it was in 1865, with no electricity or running water. Typical of New York, the original house was converted to industrial and commercial use, then rentals, before being torn down. The house is a re-creation., although happily, it is furnished with Roosevelt family furniture and objects, with moldings, wallpaper, and carpeting replicated based on family memories and photos. So it is worth a trip.
Besides the obvious stories, like where the Teddy Bear comes from, you know I love the trivia. Did you know that TDR did taxidermy as a child, grossing out the servants, and later wrote a book on it? Bully!
Did you know that TDR went west for the first time, after his wife and mother died on the same day?
And the architect for the house was Theodate Pope Riddle, the first woman architect in the state of New York and a survivor of the Lusitania.
I guess TDR was surrounded by strong women, not only his beloved niece Eleanor and outspoken daughter Alice, but also his maternal grandmother, who instilled the sense of societal obligation in her family. She did quite a job!
The family made its money in land speculation, banking, and interestingly, imported glass. This door gives you a sense of how glorious that glass was.
And those Roosevelt’s trace their arrival in New York to the Dutch in the 1650s. Roosevelt means ‘field of roses’ in Dutch and so appears on their family crest, as you can sorta see in this original plate.
Pertinent to nothing, I just liked this little lamp and its charming shade. You can see how dark the room is, and I was on the 11 a.m. tour! Hard on the eyes of the reader Teddy Roosevelt, but evocative for us visitors.