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President Herbert Hoover, one of the world's greatest humanitarians, is also one of our nation's most misunderstood leaders. His life began humbly in a two-room cottage in West Branch, Iowa. The death of both parents by the time he turned nine made for an uncertain future. Yet, instilled in this child were values of family and faith, education, and hard work. This beginning set the stage for an uncommon, triumphant life.
At Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, you can learn about the 31st president of the United States, examine the values Hoover learned in his childhood community and discover how they influenced his life of public service.
Before and after his presidency, Hoover was a successful engineer, statesman, and community organizer on a global scale. His humanitarian efforts during the first half of the 20th century saved the lives of millions of people in more than 57 countries.
Visitors can tour four significant buildings associated with Hoover's life. The cottage where Hoover was born in 1874 was built by his father and grandfather three years earlier. He later referred to this place as “ ... physical proof of the unbounded opportunity of American life.” This cottage, the Friends Meetinghouse, the schoolhouse, and an 1870s replica blacksmith shop all offer windows into the early life forces that shaped Hoover’s character. An introductory film at the visitor center and free audio tour can help make the most of your trip.
The gravesite of President and Mrs. Hoover rests on a small hill that overlooks his birthplace. In this contemplative landscape, visitors can reflect on Hoover's life.
Between these bookends of birth and death, sits the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. Visitors can explore Hoover's life through exhibits, photos, and artifacts.
Special events this summer share the Hoover story with people of all ages. June 2012 marks Humanitarianism and Public Service month in Iowa, proclaimed in honor of Herbert Hoover. A concert series, sponsored by the park and the City of West Branch, offers a chance to reflect on and honor his contributions. The summer fun continues with the “Discovering Hoover” family summer day camps throughout July, and the annual Hoover’s Hometown Days, celebrated during the first weekend of August.
Located directly off exit 254 on Interstate 80, the park is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily. Visit our website, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter to keep up with news and special events. Plan your visit Herbert Hoover National Historic Site this summer to learn more about the small town influence that raised an extraordinary world leader.
By Kristin Gibbs, Park Ranger, Herbert Hoover National Historic Site