Taft Family House

A large yellow house with green shutters surrounding the windows and a brick sidewalk in front
The 19th century Greek revival house where William Howard Taft was born and raised

NPS Photo / Tom Engberg

Quick Facts

Accessible Rooms, Accessible Sites, Baby Changing Station, Elevator, Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits, Information - Ranger/Staff Member Present, Parking - Auto, Parking - Bus/RV, Picnic Table, Restroom - Accessible, Toilet - Flush, Water - Bottle-Filling Station, Wheelchair Accessible

The Taft birthplace home and a portion of the cultural landscape has been restored to its appearance of 1857 - 1877 when Taft was growing up here. The Taft property, during the family's occupation, demonstrated qualities associated with both rural and urban landscapes. The front of the property contained simple plantings of trees, flowers and shrubs that fit into the urban landscape of the neighborhood. While the back of the property was more rural in nature. The suburban setting of large homes in which Taft grew up changed as the city grew around it. The restoration of the natural setting is important in helping to retain something of the original setting. Visitors to the site today will get a glimpse of the natural environment that William Howard Taft saw as a boy in this Mount Auburn neighborhood.

The Taft family house was built in two phases.  The original section of the house was the front portion of the house, constructed in essentially a two-story, squared shape, facing Auburn Avenue.  It was completed in 1840.  Eleven years later, Alphonso Taft, William Howard's father, purchased the house for he and his expanding family.  Not long after purchasing the house and additional property around it, he began expanding the home by adding the portion on the house's eastern side, transforming the house into an "L" shape.  The new rear section followed the contour of the land and added a level to the overall plan.

On September 15, 1857, William Howard Taft was born.  He and his siblings were raised in the home as the family played host to many social and political friends and events in the large house.  William would wind up leaving the family home when he entered Yale University in 1874.  The home would still house the Taft family for several more years, until 1889 when Alphonso and his wife moved to San Diego due to his declining health.

The Taft family attempted to sell the home several times after Alphonso's death in 1891 but it wasn't until 1899 that his widow did sell the house.  Years would go by with the home changing hands a few times until the National Park Service became involved in plans to set aside the house and property as a National Historic Site in the 1960's.  Together, with William Howard Taft's son, Charles Taft, the home would finally be set aside and protected on December 2nd, 1969 when President Richard Nixon signed the legislation authorizing William Howard Taft National Historic Site.

Read the story of how the Taft family home became a National Historic Site in the park's Administrative History book.

Last updated: November 17, 2020