Sunday, October 26, 2008

Presidential Homes

Since we are roughly only 10 days away from one of the most divisive and perhaps the most historic election ever, I thought I would commemorate the event with a look back at a couple of our past President’s homes.

So, let’s start with….

President Theodore Roosevelt

President Theodore Roosevelt 1903

By: Peter A. Juley
National Portrait Gallery, from a postcard

Theodore Roosevelt (October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919), also known as T.R., and to the public (but never to friends and intimates) as Teddy, was the twenty-sixth President of the United States. A leader of the Republican Party and of the Progressive Party, he was a Governor of New York and a professional historian, naturalist, explorer, hunter, author, and soldier. He is most famous for his personality: his energy, his vast range of interests and achievements, his model of masculinity, and his "cowboy" personality. Originating from a story from one of Roosevelt's hunting expeditions, Teddy bears are named after him.


Roosevelt’s Home at Springwood in the Hudson Valley, New York. Sagamore Hill was the home of Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the US, from 1885 until his death in 1919. Named after the Indian chief Sagamore Mohannis, Sagamore Hill stands atop Cove Neck on 95 acres of forest, tidal salt marsh, and bay beach; land which was purchased in 1880 for $10,000 down and a 20-year, $20,000 mortgage. Sagamore Hill was designed by the New York architects of Lamb & Rich, and built in 1884-1885 by John A. Wood and Son of Lawrence, Long Island, for $16,975.

Roosevelt and his second wife Edith took up full-time residency at Sagamore Hill in 1887. The couple raised a total of six children in the house. Sagamore Hill became Roosevelt’s Summer White House from 1902 until 1908. During that time, Roosevelt hosted many important people from around the world.

The house itself is a sprawling 23 room, two-floored, Victorian styled building, with a massive 30 x 40 grand room known as the North Room where TR kept his trophies, books, paintings, sculptures, library, and dozens of priceless artifacts given to him by foreign dignitaries.

The first floor contains the large center hall, library, dining room, kitchen, and drawing room. The house is surrounded by a spacious raised porch shaded by an unmistakable green awning.

The second floor contains the bedrooms, nursery, guest rooms, and a turn of the century water closet with a uniquely large porcelain tub (a luxury in those days).

This is the Trophy Room. Check out all the hunting trophies around the room, including the cheetah skin over the bench seat and the lion skin on the floor, the huge tusks at the banister, moose antlers over the entrance to the room, and the two huge bison heads flanking the fireplace.

Another view of the Trophy Room.

TR’s library. Perhaps the most significant aspect of the Library is that in 1905 a Nobel Peace Prize was won there. In that year, Theodore Roosevelt, a neutral party with a great interest in having stability in the Pacific region, brought representatives of the Japanese and Russian governments to Sagamore Hill to negotiate an end to the bloody and expensive Russo-Japanese War. Success won TR the first Nobel Peace Prize awarded to an American. The war ended with the Treaty of Portsmouth, which was signed in New Hampshire, but the agreements were sealed here at Sagamore Hill.

Dining room with beautiful x-frame end chairs, screen in background with peacocks adorning it, more hunting trophies and overmantle on fireplace no doubt holding treasures Roosevelt acquired in office.

The Study Room with various chair styles throughout the room. Interesting that there is a tufted chaise lounge (probably for Edith) and less-fancy rocking chairs for Teddy (his favorite!). You have to be careful walking around this house to not trip on all those animal skins (and heads!) on the floors.

Bathroom or as they called it then, Water Closet. I love the monogrammed towels and the pedestal sink, as you can see in the next room. Ever the patriot, note the American flag on the bookshelf on the right.

Referred to by the Roosevelt family as the hall, or occasionally front or main hall, this space served as a sitting room, an entrance hall and passageway to the first floor rooms and main staircase. The staircase is enveloped in beautiful wood trim work. More tusks!

“I wished a big piazza, very broad at the n.w. corner where we could in rocking chairs, look at the sunset; a library with a shallow bay window opening south, the parlor or drawing room occupying all the western end of the lower floor; as broad a hall as our space would permit; big fireplaces for logs; on the top floor the gun room occupying the western end so that north and west it looked over the Sound and Bay.”

- Theodore Roosevelt, 1883

Dwight D. Eisenhower’s House in Gettysburg, PA

President Eisenhower

Portrait of Dwight D. Eisenhower. Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower (October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was the thirty-fourth President of the United States from 1953 until 1961 and a five-star general in the United States Army. During the Second World War, he served as Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe, with responsibility for planning and supervising the successful invasion of France and Germany in 1944–45. In 1951, he became the first supreme commander of NATO.

Eisenhower’s home in Gettysburg, PA.

Eisenhower home and putting green

Back view of the Eisenhower home in Gettysburg, PA.

Another back view of the Eisenhower home.

This is the office of the Secret Service on the Eisenhower farm.

In 1961, Eisenhower became the first U.S. president to be "constitutionally forced" from office, having served the maximum two terms allowed by the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment was ratified in 1951, during Harry S. Truman's term, but it stipulated that Truman would not be affected by the amendment.

Eisenhower was also the first outgoing President to come under the protection of the Former Presidents Act (two then living former Presidents, Herbert Hoover and Harry S. Truman, left office before the Act was passed). Under the act, Eisenhower was entitled to receive a lifetime pension, state-provided staff and a Secret Service detail.

"When I was a small boy in Kansas, a friend of mine and I went fishing and as we sat there in the warmth of the summer afternoon on a river bank, we talked about what we wanted to do when we grew up. I told him that I wanted to be a real major league baseball player, a genuine professional like Honus Wagner. My friend said that he'd like to be President of the United States. Neither of us got our wish."

- Dwight D. Eisenhower.

President Howard Taft’s Home, Cincinnati, OH

William Howard Taft (September 15, 1857 – March 8, 1930) was the twenty-seventh President of the United States, the tenth Chief Justice of the United States.

President Howard Taft Home

The William Howard Taft National Historic Site commemorates the only man to serve as President and Chief Justice of the United States.

He considered his time as Chief Justice to be the highest point of his career. He allegedly once remarked, "I don't remember that I ever was President."

-Howard Taft

President Woodrow Wilson’s Home

Woodrow Wilson hoop spring pince nez

President Woodrow Wilson was the twenty-eighth President of the United States. A leading intellectual of the Progressive era, he served as President of Princeton University and then became the Governor of New Jersey in 1910. With Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft dividing the Republican Party vote, Wilson was elected President as a Democrat in 1912.

Home of President Woodrow Wilson by dbking.

Front view of Woodrow Wilson’s Home. In 1921, after leading the nation through the first World War, President Woodrow Wilson moved to this elegant Washington home. This stately townhouse in the capital’s Embassy Row neighborhood was a quiet haven for Wilson and his family. Now this home is Washington’s only presidential museum.

Woodrow Wilson home by Bellamist.

Backyard of Wilson’s home in Washington, D.C.

Wilsons Dining Room: Copyright 2006 Todd A. Smith All Rights Reserved

President Wilson Dining Room

Wilsons Cabinet Chair: Copyright 2006 Todd A Smith. All Rights Reserved.

Wilson’s desk in his living room.

Woodrow Wilson House Museum Library, Over All

President Wilson living room

Another view of the living room.

In 1921, Wilson and his wife retired from the White House to this home. Wilson continued going for daily drives and attended vaudeville theater on Saturday nights.

“ is as hard to do your duty when men are sneering at you as when they are shooting at you.

-Woodrow Wilson

Bill & Hillary Clinton’s Home in Chappaqua, NY


William Jefferson Clinton was the 42nd President of the United States. He was the fifteenth Democrat elected to that office. He was the third youngest President, only older than Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.

Clinton’s House 1

The Clinton’s main residence, a five-bedroom, white Dutch Colonial Revival house on 1.1 acres, built in 1889. Purchased for $1.7 million in December 1999.

[Clinton Chapaqua house]

Surrounded by the Secret Service, the home is at the end of a cul-de-sac in a northern suburb of New York City, in Westchester County.

Clinton’s House 2

Clinton’s House 3

The couple also added an octagonal breakfast-room extension. While on the campaign trail Senator Hilary Clinton often flew to Chappaqua to spend the night in her own bed.

The home's current value is about $2.6 million, more than 50% over what the Clintons paid for it.

“I may not have been the greatest president, but I've had the most fun eight years.”

-William Clinton

And Two Hopefuls….

Barack Obama’s Home in Chicago

Barack Obama is the junior Senator from Illinois and Presidential Nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2008 United States Presidential Election.

[obama home chicago]

The Obama’s purchased this Georgian-revival home of 6,500 square feet with six bedrooms and 5.5 bathrooms on an 80-by-150-foot lot in June 2005. They paid $1.65 million for the house. It includes a music room, a master-bedroom suite with a fireplace, an open kitchen with granite countertops, central air-conditioning, a wine cellar and a four-car garage.

Barack Obama and Michelle Obama and their children Malia and Sasha

Barack and Michelle Obama purchased this beautiful Kenwood neighborhood home, near the University of Chicago, after his memoir was published and became popular. The house was restored in 1999, prior to the Obamas purchasing it, to create a third-floor family room, a finished basement and an overhauled mechanical system for the house.

Well, this is NOT the Obama’s Dining Room, but I scoured the internet for hours searching for home pictures of the Obamas, and there were none to be found. So, this is the dining room that I can see Michelle Obama having for her family. Beautifully rich colors and Regency styled chairs. Very regal.

Again, not the Obama’s living room, but this is what I imagine would be a beautiful setting for them and their girls. So homey with the rich woods that I would love to live here!

The home of US Democratic presidential candidate Illinois Senator Barack Obama in Chicago, Illinois, is seen on September 2, 2008. Newly constructed barriers and around the clock police protection guard the street now that Obama is the official Democratic nominee. From Getty Images by AFP/Getty Images.

The Obamas bought at the market peak. Sales have since slowed, although area property values haven't dropped steeply. The current estimated value is $1.8 million.

“If the people cannot trust their government to do the job for which it exists - to protect them and to promote their common welfare - all else is lost.”

-Barack Obama

John McCain’s House in Phoenix, AZ

John McCain

John McCain is the senior United States Senator from Arizona and Presidential Nominee of the Republic Party in the 2008 Presidential Election.

The McCain’s actually own 7 homes; 3 in Arizona, 3 in California, and one in Virginia. Here is Cindy McCain’s childhood home, that the McCain’s shared for many years. I do not know if the McCain’s still own it or not, as I am getting different stories from several different websites.

The 14,000-square-foot home, with 13 bedrooms and 15 bathrooms, could leap in value if the senator is elected. The McCain family handprints in the cement outside might add a few pennies too.

Got $12 Million? John McCain's Arizona House Is For Sale!

Currently for sale for $12 million dollars, which is more than 4 times what Cindy McCain paid for it in 2006. Interesting cabinets. I wonder if these were the original cabinets from Cindy’s childhood refinished?

Got $12 Million? John McCain's Arizona House Is For Sale!

The master bedroom. Not my style, but interesting to see how people design their own homes. Check out those huge palms flanking the fireplace. It would seem Cindy McCain likes leaf stencils, as they are here in the master bedroom, as well as in the kitchen soffit area.

Got $12 Million? John McCain's Arizona House Is For Sale!

The living room. The wood ceiling is a bit heavy for my taste. The contrast between the ceiling and the floor isn’t great enough either. But, it must be nice to have this kind of space for entertaining.

“I am fully prepared to be commander in chief... I don't need on-the-job training.”

-John McCain

Go out and VOTE!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Beautiful Homes on Alameda Island

We live just south of the San Francisco Bay area and it's an incredible area. We have only an hour drive into the city, we are roughly 45 minutes from the beautiful coastal towns of Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea, 3 to 4 hours to the ski resorts in the Sierras, 1 1/2 hours to wine country and there is so much more!

We have a boat and keep it up in Alameda, which is an estuary away from the San Francisco Bay. Alameda, which means "grove of poplar trees', is an incredible island right off of Oakland and across the Bay from San Francisco. It is well known for it's victorian homes. Alameda has more victorian homes than any city in California and I've heard, but haven't confirmed, that it also has more victorian homes than any city in the country.

The town of Alameda is rich in history and the downtown businesses are no exception. We love to go into the beautifully restored downtown area for the famous Ole's Waffle Shop for breakfast and after dinner, Tucker's Ice Cream. It's become a tradition for our family and our kids expect it every time we go there.

So, I thought I would give you a little tour of Alameda and the beautiful homes on the island.

I think this house, although not Victorian, is my favorite on the island. It's classical beauty and enclosed glass porch gives it a very stately, yet cozy feel.

Another view of my favorite. Love the dash of color from the flowers.

The Brehaut House in Alameda. A lot of homeowners who are restoring their victorians look to this beauty for inspiration. Located in the Gold Coast section of Alameda, which used to be beach property, until a landfill was added in the 1950's.

There are about 3,000 Victorian-era homes in Alameda, one for every 25 people who live here. In addition, there are another 1,000 historic buildings, including City Hall and many of the shops along the Park Street and Webster Street.

The houses on Alameda Island range in age from the 1870s to the 1970s. Most of the victorians are Queen Annes.

Another one of my favorites. I particularly like the enclosed glass porch and the column details. Actually, this one ties for first place for my favorite!

Side view of the same house.

The colors of this house and the palm tree out front make this victorian very California!

This italianate victorian home features a lot of the features of that type. A typical low-pitched roof, a balanced-symmetrical shape, a porch topped with balustrated balcony, top narrow double-paned windows, a side bay window, and roman or segmented arches above the windows.

Another Italianate Victorian home. Some of these homes look really tiny, but others are deceiving because of their length.

Kind of a rarity amongst all the beautiful ornate victorians, this contemporary pueblo-styled home features stucco walls, flat roof with no overhang, deep windows and door openings.

One of the local churches on the island.

This is one of my favorite color combinations for the victorians. A lot of the houses only have street parking, so my pictures in some cases unfortunately have vehicles in them!

Another Queen Anne styled home. I'm not crazy about the colors, but I like the shingles on the porch and the shape of the window.

This duplex looks like it needs a little spiffying up!

This beautiful Queen Anne-styled Victorian is used as a doctor's office. I love the color and although the use of enhancements on Queen-Anne Victorians are often excessive, I think that their embellishments are tasteful.

An understated color, but this victorian is kept in nice condition.

Years ago, many people moved to Alameda to raise families and to escape the density of San Francisco and Oakland. A few houses were built as summer homes, but most were occupied year-round.

Nothing too special about the house, but I love the flowers (bougainvilleas?) that pop out at the entrance.

My daughter insisted on giving this little "victorian cat" some blog space.

In the 1970s, the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society, then called the Alameda Victorian Preservation Society, formed to protect the old victorians. (You can still see the cat on the porch).

Another well-kept home.

An Obama supporter!

A bold color choice with the purple. The sun is in the camera, so the color is not true.

Another example of Queen-Anne Victorian. Here they use the exaggeration of colors.

Cute entranceway to this victorian.

A very large victorian that looks pretty well kept. I like the detail above the upper windows.

This cotswald cottage home is a little out-of-place among all the victorians in the neighborhood, but it's charm and angled entrance make it quite interesting. A popular subtype of the Tudor Revival house style, this home features a steep, sloping, uneven roof (sometimes made of pseudo-thatch), asymmetrical design, and low doors and arched doors.

A real stand-out amongst all the victorians. I'm not sure how well received this home might be in the neighborhood with what looks to be natural cedar siding?

A monstrosity of a house. I hope these people have a maid!

Beautiful home, but manicure that yard! It takes away from the beauty of the home.

I love this home, not for its color, but for its simplistic grandeur.

I believe they call this a stick victorian, because of the "stick" like trim pieces that extend from the lower to the upper windows.

Typical of a lot of California bungalows that you see here, the key features are usually one and a half stories, low-pitched roof, the front porch is supported by thick square columns and the front door is off-set from the middle.

This American Federal-styled house is not prevalent on the island, but this one was stately looking and attractive and reminds me of the East Coast, where I once lived, so I thought I would include it!

Nice clean home, but again, the landscaping leaves much to be desired. (I think these people were on vacation with all the newspapers piled up!).

Finally, I came upon this cute little brick wall which was hiding who-knows-what behind it. But, I loved the iron gate and the tiles above it. This is what I call a happy little surprise.

Have a great weekend!

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