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Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings

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THE PRESIDENTS of the United States
Survey of
Historic Sites and Buildings

OUR Presidents are commemorated by scores of sites, ranging from the humble to the palatial: birthplaces, residences, other buildings, inaugural places, monuments, and tombs. Visits to them enhance understanding of the distinguished group of men who have led the Nation; their ways of life; family backgrounds; locales and regions in which they were born or resided; eras in which they lived; and the social, economic, and intellectual influences that molded them.

The Presidents: Historic Sites of National Significance (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

The source material for these Web pages was taken from the volume titled: The Presidents: From the Inauguration of George Washington to the Inauguration of Jimmy Carter (1977 revised edition, see credits for more details). It was produced by the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service as part of a series of reports on the National Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings and was designed to document the historic places commemorating the Chief Executives of the United States.

This volume includes all National Park System units and National Historic Landmarks associated with the Chief Executives except those that are principally of pertinence to their pre- and post-Presidential professional, business, political, and military careers and those relating to domestic and foreign policy aspects of the various administrations. These two categories are treated in the volumes of this series dealing with political and military affairs by period.

Represented in the following descriptions are at least one residence or building other than the White House for every President except McKinley, whose tomb-memorial is included, and all presidents since Ford, for whom no residences or structures had been designated by the time this volume was released in 1977. The sites are in 20 States as well as one in Canada (Roosevelt Campobello International Park). The District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and Virginia predominate. The greatest number, 14, are in the District of Columbia. Virginia contains 11. The only States in the trans-Mississippi West included are California, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Texas.

The historic places range from the White House, Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site, and St. John's Episcopal Church—which honor most of the Presidents—to a variety of structures and memorials commemorating individual Chief Executives. Of the 71 sites treated, almost half, or 30, are in the National Park System and the remainder are National Historic Landmarks. Most of them are excellently preserved, though some are restorations or reconstructions. The Landmarks are owned and administered by U.S. Government agencies, States, cities, various nongovernmental institutions, and private individuals. Many of these have made outstanding restoration and preservation efforts.

Hayes Birthplace
Many Presidential residences, especially birthplaces. no longer survive. One of these is the Hayes Birthplace. Delaware, Ohio, shown here in 1876, the year he ran for President, when it was being used as a furniture warehouse. Today, a service station occupies the site. (Library of Congress, Beach and Bodurtha, 1876)

IN addition to the sites discussed in this book, numerous Other Sites Considered shed further light on the careers of the Presidents. These are places of State and local significance, nominated through appropriate channels by the various States, that the Advisory Board on National Parks, Historic Sites, Buildings, and Monuments has deemed to possess noteworthy historical value but not national significance.

Many Other Sites Considered in all phases of history are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, maintained by the National Park Service's Office of Archeology and Historic Preservation. The register also incorporates National Park System units and National Historic Landmarks. It is published periodically and distributed by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

ALSO not included in the following descriptions are two monuments in the Washington area. Originally, the only memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt was a simple one, as he had requested, at the corner of Ninth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue near the National Archives Building. Although in 1959 Congress had authorized a more substantial monument, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial was not dedicated until May 2nd, 1997.

Also omitted is the Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove on the Potomac. It is near the Pentagon in Lady Bird Johnson Park (formerly Columbia Island) between Arlington Memorial and Rochambeau (14th Street) Memorial Bridges and the Boundary Channel and the west bank of the Potomac. The 15-acre site, which is just off George Washington Memorial Parkway and offers a panoramic view of Washington across the river, consists of a grove of 500 white pine trees, shrubs, biker-hiker trails, and picnic facilities.

The focus of the park, designed by landscape architect Meade Palmer, is a huge block of rough-hewn, red Texas granite, which came from a quarry near the LBJ Ranch and was sculpted by Harold Vogel. On four sides of the megalith are flat pink marble stones bearing well-known statements of the President, selected by Lady Bird, on education, civil rights, environment, and the Presidency. Construction of the memorial, authorized by Congress in 1973 and dedicated late in 1974, was funded by public subscriptions.

Megalith at the Lyndon B. Johnson Memorial Grove, D.C. The Washington Monument is visible in the distance across the Potomac. (National Park Service, Fred Bell, 1976.)

ALSO well worth visiting are the Presidential Libraries, which are operated by the National Archives and Records Service of the General Services Administration for most modern ex-Presidents beginning with Hoover. Open to the public, they provide interesting exhibits and audiovisual programs on the lives and times of individual Chief Executives and offer excellent research opportunities to historians and other scholars.

The Hoover Library is in West Branch, Iowa; Franklin D. Roosevelt, at Hyde Park, N.Y.; Truman, in Independence, Mo.; Eisenhower, at Abilene, Kans.; and Lyndon B. Johnson, at Austin, Tex. At the time of publication (1977) the Kennedy, Nixon, and Ford Presidential Libraries had not yet been permanently established, and none has yet been proposed for Carter (neither Reagan nor George H.W. Bush were in office at the time of this publication, nor are libraries yet established for Clinton and George W. Bush).

Eisenhower Library
The documentary resources and exhibits in the Presidential Libraries, which have been established for most modern Chief Executives, attract the general public as well as scholars. This is the Eisenhower Library. in Abilene, Kansas. (Eisenhower Presidential Library)

OUR Presidents have also been honored in many other ways than by the designation and maintenance of structures, national memorials, and Presidential Libraries. This is particularly true in placenames—not only across the land but throughout the world. These range from the Avenue du Président Wilson in Paris and the Departamento del Presidente Hayes in Paraguay to the State of Washington and the city of Madison. Many cities besides Washington, D.C., as well as a variety of other places are also named after our first President. Other Chief Executives are commemorated in cities, counties, educational institutions, naval vessels, and the like.

Two are honored in Washington, D.C., in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and its Eisenhower Theater. Visible from one part of the Nation's Capital is the eternal flame of the Kennedy Gravesite, in Arlington National Cemetery, Va., where Taft is also buried. In addition to the numerous statues in the U.S. Capitol, various others are located throughout the city, notably the equestrian tributes to Jackson in Lafayette Park and Grant at the foot of Capitol Hill on the east end of the Mall.

George Washington Memorial Parkway runs along the Potomac in Virginia, the District of Columbia, and Maryland. Theodore Roosevelt Bridge links the District of Columbia and Virginia; and Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge, Virginia and Maryland, just south of the District of Columbia boundary.

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. (National Park Service)

THE major aim of the National Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings is to identify nationally important places that are not National Park System Areas, but no survey would be complete without including them. This is particularly true because many were designated as National Historic Landmarks before they became part of the Park System.

National Historic Landmarks are those sites judged by the Secretary of the Interior and/or the Advisory Board on National Parks, Historic Sites, Buildings, and Monuments to meet the criteria of national significance in commemorating the history of the United States. Owners of National Historic Landmarks may receive certificates and bronze plaques attesting to the distinction by applying to the Department of the Interior and agreeing to preserve the designated properties.

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Last Updated: 04-Feb-2004