To request brochures for this site, please call 212-260-1616, or write to us at: Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace N.H.S., 28 East 20th Street, New York, NY 10003.
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Brochure text only:
OVERVIEW: Theodore Roosevelt BirthplaceTheodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site, located in New York, New York, is part of the National Park Service, within the Department of the Interior of the United States government. The Historic House is situated at 28 East 20th Street, between Broadway and Park Avenue South, in the Gramercy neighborhood of New York City. This park, established in 1962, is a historic site that interprets the story of Theodore Roosevelt's childhood and adult life. Each year, about 25,000 visitors come to enjoy this Historic Site. We invite you to explore a self-guided gallery space that has Theodore Roosevelt quotes, images of him and his family, and some artifacts on his life accomplishments. Free ranger-led tours explore five period-rooms as they appeared when the family lived in the house around 1865. In the tour, rangers will verbally share stories about Theodore Roosevelt and the items within the room. Rooms include: the parlor, library, dining room, nursery and master bedroom. For those seeking to learn more about the park, visit our website: www.nps.gov/thrb. To find out more about what resources are available, or to contact the park directly, visit the "Accessibility" and "More Information" sections at the end of this audio-described brochure.
OVERVIEW: Front side of brochure
The front of the brochure is an elongated 15.5 inches by 8.5 inches folded brochure. There is a black banner along the top that contains the words "Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site, National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior." There is an National Park Service arrowhead icon in the upper right corner of the banner.
Below the banner, taking up the top third of the brochure is an image of Theodore Roosevelt's front parlor. In the middle third of the brochure there is text, inlaid with a 1" by 2" image of young Theodore. On the bottom third of the front of the brochure is an historic, illustrated view of New York City's Union Square, which is close to the location where Theodore Roosevelt grew up.
The text, photo and image descriptions are presented under their own sections. In addition to the descriptions, the text sections provide stories and information about the park.
IMAGE: Sitting Room
DESCRIPTION: This is colored photograph of the parlor. The image is taken from the perspective of standing in a doorway looking into the Parlor. This is a wide-angle image that includes the full width and depth of the room. The left side of the image is a view of the left wall of the parlor. The right side of the image is the Parlor's right wall. The top of the image is the ceiling of the room, and the bottom of the image is mostly of the parlor's carpeted floor. Overall, the parlor is an ornate room with blue and light colored hues throughout its decor. The walls of the room are covered in blue flower patterned wallpaper. The floor of the room is covered with a wall-to-wall carpet of blue and cream color and ornate pattern with circles and diamond shapes. The parlor's ceiling is lined with crown molding, and an ornate chandelier made up of many glass pieces hangs from the center of the ceiling. There are two windows along the back wall of the parlor, with ornate curtains bordering both. Between these windows there is a gold framed floor to ceiling mirror. In this image, you can see a piano (left wall). Chairs and couches upholstered with a blue floral patterned satin cloth appear on the right wall of the room. A fireplace sits in the middle of the parlor's right wall. An ornately carved marble mantelpiece frames the fireplace. A historic clock and two candelabras sit atop the mantle piece in front of a large gold-framed mirror, also placed above the fireplace.
CREDIT: NPS / Mark Muse
TEXT: Theodore Roosevelt and his birthplace
QUOTE: "Nothing dot dot dot can take the place of family life." – Theodore Roosevelt at Pacific Theological Seminary, 1911
TEXT: Theodore Roosevelt — champion of the “strenuous life,” larger-than-life hero to millions of Americans, and 26th president of the United States — was born on October 27, 1858, in the original four-story, brownstone townhouse on this site.
“Teedie,” as he was known to his family, spent the first 14 years of his life in this house. He was a frail and sickly child, who suffered from severe asthma and other ailments. Physically unable to attend school on a regular basis, Theodore (seen left at age four) received some tutoring but gained his education primarily on his own by extensive reading. He devoured books on nature, adventure, and history. He learned taxidermy and started what he called the “Roosevelt Museum of Natural History” in his room.
All four of the Roosevelt children—Theodore, Elliott, Anna, and Corinne—were born in the house the family occupied until the fall of 1872. When he was 10, Theodore accompanied his family to Europe, which proved a major ordeal for him because of illness and homesickness. Two years later, as Theodore’s health began to improve, his father gave him a warning and a challenge. “You have the mind,” he said, “but you haven’t got the body. To do all you can with your mind, you must make your body match it.” Theodore vowed to improve his health. To help him his father installed gymnasium equipment on the second-floor porch. Here young Theodore, along with many neighborhood youngsters, exercised daily. By the time the family made a second trip to Europe in 1872 to 1873, his health problems no longer interfered with his activities.
After returning from Europe in 1873, the Roosevelts settled into a new home at 6 West 57th Street. The birthplace house remained in the Roosevelt family until 1896. Gradually, however, as the surrounding neighborhood passed from residential to commercial, the house underwent a series of transformations that obliterated its original character. Reconstructed in nineteen twenty to nineteen twenty three, it was donated to the National Park Service in 1962. The first floor contains the restored parlor, library, and dining room, and a museum gallery. The second floor consists of a refurbished bedroom approximating the one in which Roosevelt was born, the nursery, porch on which Roosevelt’s father installed the gymnasium equipment, library, and study. The ground floor has a large exhibit tracing Roosevelt’s career.
IMAGE: Young Boy
DESCRIPTION: This is a black and white, historic photograph of "Teedie" when he was a young boy. The size of the image is one and a half inches by two inches tall and is set within the text accompanying the image.
In the photo, Teedie stands next to and in contact with a round sitting chair that is almost as large as he. The sitting chair's top edge comes to the middle of Teedie's torso. His right arm rests on top of the chair's backrest, while the other arm hangs at his side. Teedie holds a round, decorative hat in his hand that rests at his side. The round sitting chair is upholstered with velvet. Tassels hang from the chair's backrest down to the chair's seat, as well as from the bottom of the seat towards the floor, although these tassels are not long enough to reach the floor. The background to this image may be a wall, as evidenced by large tassels that would hold open draperies from a window that is set behind the sitting chair.
IMAGE: View of New York 1855
DESCRIPTION: This is a historic lithograph image of a birds-eye view of the Union Square and surrounding neighborhood, in New York City. This lithograph demonstrates the hustle and bustle of the city in 1855. In the foreground of the image is Union Square Park. This park is oval in shape, with pathways, trees, and a large fountain in the center of the park. Broad streets surround the park on all sides. Street cars and horse-drawn buggies are scatted among these streets. Beyond the park, there are many buildings, crisscrossed with streets. Off in the distance, is the southern tip of Manhattan, which is bordered by the the East River and Hudson Rivers. CAPTION: View of New York in 1855 showing the neighborhood in which TR grew up; his home is off the picture in the center foreground. His grandfather Cornelius lived in the house just above the large tree at the end of the park. CREDIT: J. Clarence Davies Collection, Museum of the City of New York
OVERVIEW: Back side of brochure
The backside of the brochure contains 3 colored images of museum exhibits, a color image of a stuffed lion, a colored photograph of one of the rooms within the birthplace, three historic photographs of the birthplace, a timeline of Theodore Roosevelt's life achievements, and text about planning your trip, and the history of the birthplace house. This backside of the brochure also has a map in the lower right corner. All these items are set against a watermark image of Theodore Roosevelt.
IMAGE: Natural History
DESCRIPTION: This is a colored photograph of artifacts on display in the museums' exhibit hall. In the lower left of this image are two examples of mounted and stuffed birds perched on dark colored wooden stands. One bird is small finch that has brown coloration on its back, and reddish coloration on its chest. The other bird, larger in size, is darker in overall appearance. It has light specks all over its body. This larger bird is a European Starling. In the upper left corner of the image is a framed photograph of Theodore when he was a young boy. In the upper right corner of the image is Theodore Roosevelt's journal. Below the journal is an old book that is open to a page that has an illustration of a bird. In the lower right corner of the image is another book. The book's front cover is open, revealing Theodore Roosevelt's signature. All exhibited items are set against a pale background. CAPTION: Roosevelt’s interest in natural science resulted in a collection of insects and stuffed birds he called the ”Roosevelt Museum of Natural History.”
CREDIT: NPS / Mark Muse
IMAGE: Milwaukee 1912
DESCRIPTION: This is an image of items on display in an exhibit case. On the bottom edge of the photo is a eye glass case. The case is old and scuffed up. In the corner of the eyeglass case is a hole left by the bullet that penetrated through the case. Next to the spectacles case is an unfolded speech that reveals two bullet holes that are an exact mirror of each other. Set behind these two smaller items is a white shirt with its front facing forward. Running down the center of the shirt there are three buttons. close to these buttons is a ripped hole in the shirt, left by the bullet.
CAPTION: The bullet holes in Roosevelt’s glasses case, shirt, and speech are grim reminders of an attempt to assassinate him in Milwaukee in 1912.
CREDIT: NPS / Mark Muse
IMAGE: Spanish-American War
DESCRIPTION: This is a color photograph of Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Rider uniform items that are on display in the exhibit area. The uniform pieces include a pair of gloves, a bandanna, a jacket and a hat. The gloves are made of leather and show wear and tear. The bandanna is blue, printed with polka-dot patterns. There is a cloth, khaki colored jacket that is mounted, and faces forward. The jacket has two breast pockets, both of which are closed with a brass button. 5 brass buttons run down the length of the jacket, between the two breast pockets. There is a low neck collar upon which is pinned brass military insignia. Around the jacket's waist is what appears to be a leather belt or holster. Dangling from this is another piece of leather with brass clips. The hat is a light brown colored cowboy-styled hat with a wide brim, and a ribbon tied around the brim's base.
CAPTION: Uniform and equipment worn by Theodore Roosevelt as colonel of the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War.
CREDIT: NPS / Mark Muse
IMAGE: Theodore Roosevelt portrait
DESCRIPTION: This is a watermark painting of Theodore Roosevelt as an adult man. He is standing, facing forward, and his facial expression is neither smiling nor frowning. He is wearing spectacles, and has a mustache and short hair. He is wearing formal attire, including a white collared shirt with tie. Most of the tie is hidden from view, tucked underneath a light-colored vest. Over these layers, Theodore wears a black overcoat garment.
TIMELINE: Passages in an Active Life
1858: Born October 27 at 28 East 20th Street
1880: Graduates from Harvard; marries Alice Hathaway Lee
1882 until 1884: Member, New York State Assembly
1882: Publishes Naval War of 1812, first of many books on history, nature, travel, and public affairs
1884: Alice Lee dies February 14
1884 until 1886: Cattle rancher in Dakota Territory
1886: Unsuccessful candidate for mayor of New York; marries Edith Carow on December 2
1889 until 1895: Member, U.S. Civil Service Commission
1895 until 1897: President, New York City Board of Police Commissioners
1897 until 1898: Assistant secretary of the Navy
1898: Organizes Rough Riders
1898 until 1901: Governor of New York State
1900: Elected U.S. vice president; becomes president September 14, 1901, upon death of William McKinley
1902: Enforces antitrust laws; begins vigorous conservation program
1904: Elected U.S. president
1905: Mediates Russo-Japanese peace treaty; awarded Nobel Peace Prize
1907: Sends U.S. Navy on voyage around the world
1909: Ends presidential term; embarks on safari
1912: Runs for president on Progressive Party ticket; survives assassination attempt while campaigning in Milwaukee
1913: Leaves for South America
1919: Dies January 6 at Sagamore Hill
IMAGE: The Birthplace House over time
Here are three different images of the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace that show the evolution of the site over time. One of these images is a sketch, and the other two are photographs.
IMAGE 1 of 3: 1860s
DESCRIPTION: This pencil sketch of 28 East 20th street shows a horse-drawn buggy in the foreground. The buggy is in front of Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace, which is a 4-story residential structure in row with other residential structures that look very similar, if not the same. This commercial building is between two other buildings
CAPTION: Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace as it appeared in 1860.
IMAGE 2 of 3: 1896
DESCRIPTION: Black and white photo of the birthplace in 1896. The house has commercial storefront that is built on the front three stories of the 4 story structure.
CAPTION: Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace as it appeared in 1896.
IMAGE 3 of 3: Commercial Building
DESCRIPTION: Black and white photograph of a 2-story commercial, brick building that replaced the birthplace house in 1916. On the building's street level, there is a storefront. On the second floor there are four large windows. This building is set between two other buildings.
CAPTION: The commercial building that replaced the birthplace house in 1916.
TEXT: Birthplace House
The Roosevelt home at 28 East 20th Street was a typical New York brownstone located on what was a quiet tree-lined street in New York’s most fashionable residential district. The family lived there until 1872 when Theodore Jr. was 14. Eventually the house was taken over for business purposes. In 1916 it was completely demolished to make way for a two-story commercial building.
After Theodore Roosevelt’s death in 1919 prominent citizens decided to purchase the site, raze the commercial building, and reconstruct Roosevelt’s boyhood home as a memorial. The reconstructed birthplace was opened to the public in 1923. In 1963 the Theodore Roosevelt Association donated the site to the National Park Service.
Rooms of the house have been restored to reflect their appearance between 1865 and 1872. Most of the furnishings are from the original house or were provided by family members. Color schemes, layouts, and other room details were provided by Theodore Roosevelt’s sisters and his wife.
IMAGE: TR's Parents' Bedroom
DESCRIPTION: This is a colored photograph of the master bedroom. In the foreground of this photograph is a bed with a hand-needlepoint bed coverlet covering it. Beyond the bed, there are other pieces of wooden furniture including a desk along one wall, a bureau against the adjacent wall, and a chair sitting next to the bureau. A piece of framed artwork hangs above the desk. There is a window that is framed with light green colored draperies that are pulled open, allowing natural light to enter the room. The walls of the master bedroom are covered in patterned wallpaper. The floor is covered in wall to wall carpet. CAPTION: TR's Parents' Bedroom
DESCRIPTION: This is a colored photograph of a stuffed, male lion, as evidenced by the prominent mane. All body parts of the lion are visible. The lion is mounted upon a wooden stand in a room that has wooden paneling and large windows that are concealed by bright, red, cloth draperies. The lion stands erect. Its head is held in a natural position, neither alert nor resting, but awake and aware. The lion's front legs are positioned next to one another with one paw slightly forward from the other. The hind legs are set one further back from the other, as if the lion was taking a step forward.
CAPTION: A large lion shot by Theodore Roosevelt in Africa dominates the Lion Room.
CREDIT: NPS / Mark Muse
TEXT: Planning your visit
Period rooms can only be seen by park ranger-guided tours. Each tour is limited to 15 people and lasts approximately 30 minutes. Late comers will be asked to join a later tour. Groups of 10 or more need to call (212) 260-1616 to book a group visit. Visitors may also visit the ground floor gallery which contains hundreds of original items from Roosevelt’s colorful life. Service animals are welcome.
Lexington Avenue #6 subway trains stop at the East 23rd Street station on Park Avenue South. Express #4 and #5 subways stop at Union Square. R subway trains stop at the East 23rd Street station on Broadway. Frequent service is provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Last updated: September 12, 2019