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