New York

Off the Beaten Path: Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historical Site

Theodore Roosevelt statue at the Museum of Natural History

I decided to follow up on my post about finding off-the-beaten path sites with a few examples from my local travels.

Why Visit?

Despite the good and bad of his politics, Theodore Roosevelt devoted his life to being a badass.  Nothing demonstrates this more vividly than the following event.  It happened while he was on the campaign trail for third term in office.  After being shot in the chest, Roosevelt went on to deliver a 55-90 minute speech (the length differs in different accounts), before finally allowing himself to be taken to the hospital.  He survived the assassination attempt, but he wasn’t re-elected.

It was this story that drew me to visit the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace,  a historical site run by the National Park Service.  The site has two parts, a historical restoration of Roosevelt’s childhood home and a small museum with artifacts from his political career.

The Home

Tours of the home focus on his childhood and family life, showing how he grew from sickly, asthmatic child living in New York (in a time when smoking cigars was a doctor prescribed treatment for asthma), into a man known for his love of the outdoors and “manly” pursuits.  For example, the home contains a recreation of the exercise equipment that his father built for him so that he could exercise and strengthen his lungs.

The sitting room – photo by Rolf Muller via wikimedia commons

The Museum

I found the museum more interested then the home itself.  It contains a small, but excellent, collection of political cartoons and artifacts including one of the original “teddy” bears.  It also contains artifacts related to the assassination attempt: his shirt (still bloody), a speech manuscript and glasses case.  All three have holes from the single bullet shot into Roosevelt’s chest at close range.  They fascinating too see in person (even if a little morbid.)

Manuscript of the speech Roosevelt delivered after the assassination attempt. The bullet hole is visible. Photo by Rickster77 via wikimedia commons


The site is run by the National Park service.  It is free to visit.  To see the period rooms, you must join one of the guided tours.  You can see the schedule and other details at the National Park Service’s website.

I’m going to continue this series throughout the summer with some off the beaten path sites to visit in and around my local area.  What are your favorite under the radar sites in your area?

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