As we gear up to celebrate Independence Day, we’re taking a moment to reflect on the notable homes owned (or lived in) by some of America’s most notable presidents. These remarkable residences still stand to this day, offering a glimpse into the past and how presidents lived in their quieter moments. From Washington to JFK, here are a few of our favorite presidential homes that are more than worth the visit.
Photos via Mount Vernon
President George Washington’s Mount Vernon is one of the most recognizable historic homes in the country. The gardens of the estate – which Washington personally redesigned – are just as remarkable as the meticulously maintained interiors of the mansion. The interior spaces weren’t just designed for Washington’s private use, but also for entertaining government officials, foreign dignitaries, soldiers, and average citizens.
The lifelong Virginia home of President James Madison (and later, his wife Dolley) was originally built by Ambrose Madison (James’ grandfather). However, he significantly modified the home – specifically, adding a thirty-foot extension, a Tuscan portico, a drawing room, one-story wings at either end of the home, and single-story extensions on both sides of the home. (After Madison’s death, the home eventually fell into the hands of the duPont family in 1901, who transferred ownership to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1984.) Today, Montpelier’s restored rooms reflect the Madisons’ sense of style.
Located in North Washington, D.C., this historic site is where President Abraham Lincoln spent a quarter of his presidency. Here, President Lincoln visited with wounded soldiers, along with self-emancipated men, women, and children. (Notably, this is also where Lincoln developed the Emancipation Proclamation.) The interiors, though architecturally interesting, have a distinctive simplicity.
Located in Hyde Park, Springwood was the home of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt – and became the site of the first Presidential library, along with the final resting place of FDR. Like Montpelier, this was a family property. (FDR was actually born here in 1882.) FDR’s father, James, bought the then-gray clapboard home in 1867. The home was extensively overhauled in 1916 to what you see today and was FDR’s primary residence. (Interestingly, his wife Eleanor was never a fan of the home – perhaps because FDR’s mother lived here and ran the home – and instead preferred to spend her time in the “Stone Cottage”, a small house located on the property.) Though FDR would hold many presidential functions at his own nearby retreat, Springwood was often a place he’d work in, study, and entertain.
Photos via John F. Kennedy Memorial Library
Though the famed Kennedy Compound is still in use, the nearby John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum touches upon President Kennedy’s life in the three-home family estate. Owned and remodeled by his father, Joseph P. Kennedy, the Compound was where the tight-knit Kennedy family spent their summers. JFK and Jackie lived in the “Main House” (which was the primary residence of his parents) early in their marriage. During his presidency, JFK would also use the main home for entertaining and business.
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