T is for Theodore

Located at 28 East 20th Street, New York, NY 10003
Museum Website:  https://www.nps.gov/thrb/index.htm

Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace

Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace, a brownstone townhouse, is where Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, lived from his birth on October 27, 1858 until he was 14 years old. The museum is designed as a memorial and place to interpret Roosevelt’s ideals and legacies. The site opened to the public on October 27, 1923. 

The museum building contains five period rooms: the parlor, library, dining room, nursery, and master bedroom, two museum galleries a library, auditorium, storage, and a bookstore.

Museum galleries are filled with Roosevelt memorabilia and exhibits pertaining to Roosevelt’s life, career, and politics. The collections include manuscripts, published books and articles, cartoons, and photographs, as well as many of Roosevelt’s letters and journals. Also included are original historic objects and furnishings from Roosevelt’s childhood home, as well as other objects from his later life.

The library is filled with a collection of Roosevelt books and other research material. 

The Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace was established as a national historic site in 1962 and donated to the National Park Service in 1963. 

The house gives the definite impression that it belonged to a wealthy family, with flowing silk curtains and expensive furniture and chandeliers. While all the period pieces of furniture and decorations are heirlooms, the original home, was demolished in 1916, after the family moved uptown and the building was used for commercial purposes for a number of years.

After Roosevelt’s death in 1919, the site was purchased by the Women’s Roosevelt Memorial Association, rebuilt and decorated with many of its original furnishings by Roosevelt’s sisters and wife.

The reconstruction of the birthplace was designed by one of America’s first female architects, Theodate Pope Riddle. 

The reconstruction of the exterior and the period rooms within it was based on the memories of Theodore Roosevelt’s sisters and wife.They were instrumental in determining spatial configuration, wall and floor finishes, furnishings, and furniture placement in the rooms. The restoration was also based on house descriptions from Roosevelt’s autobiography and the townhouse next door that had belonged to Roosevelt’s uncle and was still extant when the reconstruction began. Original elements from that home, which was identical to the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace, were incorporated into the reconstructed home. 

Called Teedie as a youngster, he started life as a sickly yet bright boy who exercised to improve his health and began a lifelong passion for the ‘strenuous life’. 

Under President Theodore Roosevelt, congress passed the Antiquities Act in 1906, which authorizes the President to declare, by public proclamation, historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest situated on federal lands as national monuments.

After becoming president in 1901, Roosevelt used his authority to establish 150 national forests, 51 federal bird reserves, four national game preserves, five national parks and 18 national monuments on over 230 million acres of public land. Today, the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt is found across the country.

The story of how a sitting president of the United States got associated with the most popular children’s plush toy starts when the president, on a hunting trip in 1902, refused to shoot a captive bear. And the story was published far and wide. Morris Michtom and his wife Rose, Brooklyn business people, had the idea to create a stuffed toy bear and dedicate it to the president who refused to shoot a bear. After receiving Roosevelt’s permission to use his name, the toy was mass produced, becoming famous all over the world as the Teddy Bear.

He is one of the four presidents the country honored and immortalized on Mount Rushmore. 

Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906 “for his role in bringing to an end the bloody war recently waged between two of the world’s great powers, Japan and Russia”.

His reputation as an outdoorsman, naturalist, rancher, and conservationist has earned him a unique place in our country’s history. The motto on his Coat of Arms says: Qui plantavit curabit – He who planted will preserve.

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