This past weekend I crossed something off my ever-growing NYC bucket list. After visiting the FDR compound up in Hyde Park, NY two years ago and learning that Theodore Roosevelt is the only US President born in NYC, I have been wanting to take a tour of his childhood brownstone to get a glimpse into what life in the 1800's was like ever since.
I was thrilled to find out that tours of the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site (28 E. 20th Street) are free and given on the hour from 10-4 Tuesday-Saturday (with no tours at noon). I managed to sneak into the last tour of the day with Ranger Sam. Personally, I think it's pretty badass to be a ranger, but to be a ranger in NYC is a pretty unusual feat. Sam led our tour group, mostly comprised of tourists young and old as well as some families, through the house. I was a bit disappointed to learn that this wasn't the original house because after Mr. Roosevelt decided he didn't want to re-buy the house in 1916 when he was President, it was torn down. After he died in 1919, his sisters Anna and Corinne and niece Eleanor decided to rebuild and refurnish to create the historical site it is today. So while the frame is not original, the layout, most of the furniture and decor is.
|Teddy Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site|
Something that definitely struck me throughout the house was the lighting, or lack thereof. Sam told us that even though the house is currently outfitted with electricity, they tried to recreate the amount of lighting the family had in the late 1800s with gas lamps. Needless to say, it was dark, and the dark wallpapers only added to the gloominess of some rooms. However, some of the furnishings were amazing. The original marital bed and furniture set were carved from the most gorgeous wood and the glass-work throughout the house was magnificent. Teddy's grandfather was a glass trader so the family benefited immensely from that, in addition to the fact that the grandfather was fairly wealthy and bought the house for his son (Teddy Sr.) as a wedding gift. Not too shabby right?
|First Floor Entranceway|
|Fireplace in the Living Room|
|Teddy's Chair as a Boy|
|Glass Door in Between Living and Dining Rooms (and Ranger Sam)|
|Dishes were a Gift from Eleanor Roosevelt Upon Completion of the House|
|Decor in the Parlor|
|Chandelier in the Parlor|
|Doll in the Nursery|
|View to the makeshift gym in the back of the house|
|The actual crib that TR slept in as a baby|
|Newspaper Cartoon About TR as Police Commissioner|
If you find yourself with a spare hour in Union Square, I would highly recommend a visit to the TR Birthplace National Historic Site. It's transporting, informative, and just plain interesting. You can follow the historic site on Twitter. So what do you think about our 26th President? Do you think had a pretty plush life growing up in the 1800s? Have you been to the historic site? Are you planning to go?