Union Square Excursion (part 2)

After getting our literary on at Strand Bookstore my roommate and I walked to 20th street between Broadway and Park Avenue to visit President Theodore Roosevelt’s Birthplace.

Roosevelt is the only president born in New York City.

National Park Service runs the historic home and park rangers give guided tours.

Park Rangers Mike Amato (left) & Daniel Prebutt (right)

Our tour guide was Interpretive Park Ranger Daniel Prebutt. Daniel had tons of stories to go with everything and anything in the house.

Roosevelt “was a frail and sickly child, who suffered from severe asthma and other ailments”; because of this he was home schooled.

The house was not very big considering how many people actually lived in the home. Including Theodore and his parents, three siblings; a nanny or governess and his grandmother all stayed in this house. The Roosevelts had to raise the roof and add another floor to the home to accommodate everyone.

The second floor housed the reading room, dining room, and parlor.

Reading Room

Roosevelt was a voracious reader. He especially liked books about wilderness, adventure and history.

Roosevelt’s Velvet Chair

The furniture in the reading room was made out of horsehair but it irritated Roosevelt’s legs so his parents got him a velvet-covered chair.

Dining Room

The dining room also served as a meeting place where Roosevelt’s father would talk business and debate politics with his associates. Some speculate this is where Roosevelt’s political aspirations may have started.


There are two bedrooms on the third floor; the kids’ room and the parents’ room.

Birthing Bed

Roosevelt’s parent’s bed is where he and his siblings were born.

There was no running water in the house so the Roosevelts had water brought up to drink and brush their teeth. They even used a chamber pot. Then a servant would retrieve it and dump it out (pun intended).

Water and Chamberpot

Steps to Gymnasium

The nanny or governess usually stayed in the kids’ room as well.  On the other side of the window is a porch where his “father installed gymnasium equipment” so he could exercise daily. His father believed that if Theodore strengthened his body his asthma would go away. Our 26th President’s hard work paid off when his “health problems no longer interfered with his activities.”

I like learning about presidents’ early years.  You can see how those years really shaped who they are and how they will be as presidents.

Tomorrow we’ll take a look at some of the items you can purchase at Union Square Holiday Market.

The Road Back (part 3)

While driving across Kentucky I was really excited when I saw the road sign saying President Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace was the next exit. I really wanted to experience some U.S. history along our trip. Yes, Graceland is also history but it’s more culture/celebrity history not the kind you find in a history book. At least, no history book I have ever read in school.

I was determined to find Lincoln’s home. Lucky for me his birthplace and boyhood home are within ten miles of each other.

Abraham Lincoln Bust

When we exited the interstate we followed the signs but it seems we were on this rural road with cornfields that kept going as far as the eye could see. The corn had already been harvested and some fields had already been cut down.

It made me think of something my dad said when watching a movie or TV show where a person was running through a cornfield. He said the leaves would “cut you up”. I’m not sure if that kernel of knowledge is true since I have never had the pleasure to run through a cornfield.

When we arrived at the National Historical Park there is a huge Memorial Building with stone columns and four sets of stairs. It houses Lincoln’s birth home.  In the Visitor Center we watch a short film that was very informational.

Here are some of the interesting tidbits I learned about the 16th President.

Abraham Lincoln shares the same name with his grandfather, who was very rich. When he died he left everything to his oldest son. Abe’s father, Thomas, didn’t

Sinking Spring

get anything. After marrying Abe’s mother, Nancy Hanks, they moved to Sinking Spring Farm. It was called that because of the Spring down the hill from the cabin.

Symbolic birthplace cabin

Shortly, the future president was born in a one-room log cabin. It was 18-by-16 feet with a dirt floor, one window, one door, a small fireplace and a low chimney made of clay straw and hardwood. Their home may have been small but according to the 15-minute video The National Park Service shows the Lincolns were not poor, but they weren’t rich either. Thomas was a farmer and did carpentry and cabinetmaking on the side.

This is what inside of the cabin may have looked like.

The log cabin in the Memorial Building is not the original log cabin. The cabin inside is very old but The National Park Service considers it “a symbolic cabin”.

According to NPS, the original cabin was purchased by a NY businessman in 1894. “Shortly thereafter it was dismantled and reassembled for exhibition in many cities.” There is no information on what happened to the cabin after that.

The Memorial Building

The Memorial Building was built almost 100 years after the Lincolns left Sinking Spring Farm. The Lincoln Farm Association raised more than $350,000 from 100,000 American citizens to build the neoclassical structure. Each step to the Memorial represents every year President Abraham Lincoln lived.

When Abe was two-years-old the family moved ten-miles northeast to Knob Creek.  This is where his first memories come from.

Lincoln did attend school at what he called a “blab school”. The school couldn’t afford writing materials so it taught using recitation. Lincoln only attended about two years’ worth of school but he loved writing and would use sticks in dirt, or his finger on a dusty window to write.

Thomas and Nancy Lincoln

Learning about the 16th President’s beginnings during a time when a Presidential election is going on and a big-budget movie is about the hard-working man is about the come out was very illuminating.

Lincoln was underestimated time and time again but he never gave up. It seemed to spur him on to do great things and stand up for what he believed in and for Americans.