Ever wonder about the places that our presidents of old would call home when not in the White House? The 26th President of the United States – the famous Theodore Roosevelt – took up residence in upstate New York at an estate known as Sagamore Hill. As a young man, Roosevelt would purchase the Sagamore Hill site for a staggering $30,000, which is nearly $700,000 by today’s inflation!
The site itself was an initially empty lot of 155 acres and is located on the peninsula of Cover Neck, which overlooks Oyster Bay. In 1884, Roosevelt began seeking out an architect to construct him a home on the property. Eventually, he settled on New York City firm Lamb & Rich, who would complete a mansion on the property in 1886 for just under $17,000 (or about $450,000 in modern day currency.
Roosevelt named the property Sagamore Hill after the Algonquian word for “chieftain.” After another addition to the home coming two decades later, the property had a staggering 23 rooms. Roosevelt would live out his days with his second wife, after his first’s passing, in the home until he died in 1919. In 1962, the site was officially declared a Historic Site by Congress, allowing the property to be taken into the care of the National Park Service.
Today, the grounds of the property are available for visiting, though the home itself has remained closed for restoration work since 2011. The $6.2 million project was expected to take three years, but has run slightly over. However, if you find yourself travelling this summer, the house is going to be opened in all of its restored glory on July 13th, 2015. The massive estate originally included a gun room on the top floor, which overlooked the bay below.
Even if your plan is to stop by Sagamore hill before then, however, you’ll still be able to find plenty to do and see on the grounds. Start off by simply walking around the exquisitely kept grounds and taking in the natural beauty. An old, grand tree near the house itself sticks out as a surprisingly draw for tourists. On the main quarters’ porch, one can still view the presidential chair that Teddy himself would sit in each evening and take in the spectacular view.
Just because the main house is still closed, however, doesn’t mean there aren’t some exciting relics of the past to be seen. The grounds also house a charming gift shop, as well as a museum section which houses some of the former president’s possessions and serves as a great jumping off point for soaking in the history of the estate. In both the museum and the mansion when it reopens, one can see stuffed and mounted animals from Roosevelt’s many expeditions with the Rough Riders and his world travelers, old uniforms and personal possessions of the family, Roosevelt’s rifles, and more.
If you’ve got the time, definitely add Sagamore Hill to your itinerary, and consider making a day of exploring the grounds! Also you might want to consider a visit to Sarasota Springs and all the historical sites it has to offer.