I Like Ike’s House

I want to start with some much-delayed blog business and thank Historical Digression for a Leibster Award nomination (and apologize for taking so very long to acknowledge it) and Chandler Swain Reviews for a Versatile Blogger nomination.  I don’t read enough blogs to nominate 11 and 15, respectively, in turn, so I can’t formally accept the awards.  But in the spirit of Chandler Swain Reviews, a movie review site, I will tell you that my all-time favorite movie is Lilies of the Field.  Rounding out the top 5 are My Brilliant Career, Anne of the Thousand Days, Gettysburg, and Streetcar Named Desire.  I tried hard to think of one that had been done in this century, but I got nothin’.

And speaking of Gettysburg — how’s that for a subtle transition — I was at the Eisenhower National Historic Site in Gettysburg for the first time during their WWII weekend in September.  I’m at the Gettysburg National Military Park quite a bit but have never quite made it to the Eisenhower site, adjoining the park to the west.  You get the tickets for and board the shuttle to (there’s no public parking there) the Eisenhower site at the battlefield visitor center.

WWII 014

Dwight D. and Mamie bought the 189 acre property in 1950, while he was president of Columbia University, in preparation for their retirement.  Events — like being President of the United States — got in the way of their retirement plans for awhile and they didn’t end up moving there until 1961.  The core of the house was a log cabin built in the mid 18th century.

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The enclosed porch, above, was their favorite room.  Doesn’t it look like any old granny’s 1960s house?  Except that the Eisenhowers weren’t any old grandparents, so the room saw use by the likes of Churchill, Khrushchev, and De Gaulle.

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My favorite story about the house has to do with the marble fireplace in the living room.  It was once in the White House but removed during a Grant administration renovation.  Years later, it was found under the porch of a house in Georgetown, acquired by the White House staff and given to the Eisenhowers as an anniversary gift.  It was the General’s favorite piece in the house because there’s a photograph of President Lincoln standing in front of a White House fireplace just like it.  The White House had seven of  those fireplaces, however, all exactly alike, so no one knows whether this one was the one in the Lincoln photo.

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6 Responses to I Like Ike’s House

  1. nerdtrips says:

    Thanks History Tourist. This house is on my Nerd Trips to-do list – can’t wait to see it myself!

  2. I am still sad that I didn’t have time to visit when I visited Gettysburg back in 2008. Just another reason to get back there again!

    • I’ve been living less than 2 hours from it for most of my life, and I hadn’t been there until September. I know that there’s just so much to do when you come east. But the house and the rest of the farm is lovely, and it’s a self-guided tour so it can take as much or little time as you like. Definitely worth the detour if you’re at the battlefield anyway.

  3. Oooh! We almost went there when we were at the Gettysburg battle reenactment this summer, but completely ran out of time. I think I’d like Ike’s house too–LOVE the fireplace story! When did Khrushchev get there?

    • Khrushchev was there in September 1959. He made friends with Eisenhower’s grandchildren and invited them all to Russia. The house is lovely — elegant public rooms but comfortable and homey family space.

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