TwHP Lessons

Growing into Public Service:
William Howard Taft's Boyhood Home

[Cover photo] Taft's Boyhood Home (National Park Service)

H
igh atop one of Cincinnati's most prominent hilltops stands the large yellow house where William Howard Taft was born and grew up. Located in the once-affluent suburb of Mount Auburn, the two-story Greek Revival house is a reminder of the elegant era when those of means could escape the dirt, heat, and crowded conditions of the lower city. Although attractive and comfortable, the house was quite modest compared to the many splendid country villas found along the slope of Mount Auburn and on the summit. During the mid-19th century, Mount Auburn was known as the city's "Fifth Avenue." Among the many examples of architecture were elaborate Second Empire homes with their two distinctive sloped roofs, rambling Italianate villas belonging to some of Mount Auburn's wealthiest residents, and Georgian Revival houses reminiscent of the grandeur of the southern states.

Walking through the neighborhood, one can imagine the sounds of horse-drawn carriages making their way up the steep hill to return well-to-do Mount Auburn residents to their homes. Now nestled among modern service buildings and other mansions that have been preserved, the Taft House reminds us of the boyhood and upbringing of a man whose career was dedicated to his country.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

About This Lesson

Getting Started: Inquiry Question

Setting the Stage: Historical Context

Locating the Site: Maps
 1. Downtown Cincinnati and Suburbs, 1871
 2. Historic Auburn Avenue Neighborhood

Determining the Facts: Readings
 1. Will Taft Grows Up
 2. The Taft Household
 3. High School Admission Test
 4. President and Chief Justice
 5. Brothers, Sister, Sons, and Daughter

Visual Evidence: Images
 1. The Taft house, 1868
 2. The Taft boys
 3. Taft and his high school graduating class
 4. William Howard Taft National Historic Site

Putting It All Together: Activities
 1. Leadership Characteristics
 2. Practicing Leadership Skills

Supplementary Resources

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William Howard Taft NHS


This lesson is based on the William Howard Taft National Historic Site, one of the thousands of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

 

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