Posted by: Kirsten | Thursday, 29 November 2007

Holiday Homes of the American Presidents

Many of the National Historic Sites that feature former U.S. Presidents decorate for the holidays and for the next month, this is your opportunity to do some educational sightseeing and some holiday merrymaking all in one trip!

Here are just some of the locations where you can see Presidential Holiday Displays:


A Christmas Past, Herbert Hoover Nat’l Historic Site (West Branch, IA)
Dates: Friday 11/30/2007 thru Sunday, 12/02/2007

Horse-drawn wagon rides on Friday and Saturday evenings start at 5:30 p.m. from the Visitor Center. The rides take visitors through the National Historic Site and historic downtown West Branch. The last wagon rides are at 8:00 p.m. The Herbert Hoover Birthplace Cottage, Blacksmith Shop, Schoolhouse, and Friends Meetinghouse will be open to visitors on Friday and Saturday nights until 8:00 p.m. For more information, call (319) 643-2541.

The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum features Christmas trees in its annual holiday exhibit with 20 decorated trees based on the film, “It’s A Wonderful Life”. The Young Footliters present free performances of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” in the auditorium on Friday at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. On Friday and Saturday evenings join the “Uncalled Four” from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. inside the Presidential Library and Museum for Christmas carols. Sunday afternoon from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. is the Presidential Library and Museum’s Holiday Open House, featuring refreshments and visits with Santa Claus and Aunt Holly. For more information call the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum at (319) 643-5301.

Main Street West Branch will feature brick fireplaces for roasting marshmallows, fresh cooked doughnuts, photos with Santa Claus, and a performance by the West Branch Jazz Band on Friday night. Downtown shops will be open for business Friday night and Saturday. Be sure to stop at the Town Hall to check out the craft fair on Saturday. For more information call Main Street West Branch at (319) 643-7100.

Main Street West Branch invites visitors to holiday tea at the Hoover House, one of the historic commercial buildings on Main Street. The holiday teas are Friday and Saturday at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Children’s teas are on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. For more information, ticket prices, and reservations, call (319) 643-3005.

Herbert Hoover National Historic Site and the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum are in West Branch, Iowa at exit 254 of I-80. Admission will be free from 5 p.m. on Friday through 5 p.m. on Sunday. Parking is limited so please allow extra time to find a parking space.


Plains Community Christmas Sing, Jimmy Carter Nat’l Historic Site (Plains, GA)
Date/Time: Sunday, 12/02/2007, 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM

Your family is invited to join in sharing the joyous music of the holiday season and view the beautiful Christmas lights of Plains. Addmission is free.

For more information: call Susan Fuller at 229-824-4104 ext. 34.


Truman Christmas Exhibit, Harry S. Truman Nat’l Historic Site (Independence, MO)
Date/time: Everyday from 11/20/2007 to 1/6/2008, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM
Location: Visitor Center

From the nine foot tree in the living room to the turkey for dinner, Christmas at 219 North Delaware was much like Christmas at any home in America. Presents were wrapped, holiday cards sent and the tree was trimmed with colorful lights, glass ornaments and tinsel.

Like many of us, the holidays were a chance for the Trumans to spend time with family and friends in the comfort and warmth of home. We are fortunate to have the complete contents of the Truman Home intact. This time capsule of belongings helps us to better understand the Truman family’s everyday lives, including how they spent their holidays. The artifacts here, even down to the scotch tape, are a part of their story.

For more information: http://home.nps.gov/hstr/historyculture/upload/Truman%20Christmas.pdf


A White House Christmas, President’s Park (Washington, DC)

Date/time: Tuesday through Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for groups of 10 or more people

White House tour reservations can be made up to six months in advance, so if you haven’t already made a reservation, you’re probably out of luck for this year. However, there is always the chance of a cancellation. Visitors may call the 24-hour line at 202-456-7041 for the most current tour information.

For more information: http://home.nps.gov/whho/planyourvisit/white-house-tours.htm

And if you can’t get in on a tour, check out whitehouse.gov where you can still see and learn about the many decorated rooms in the White House this year:


Eisenhower Christmas, Eisenhower Nat’l Historic Site (Gettysburg, PA)
Date/time: Everyday from 12/1/2007 to 12/31/2007, 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Celebrate Christmas in the tradition of Gettysburg’s First Family at the Eisenhower National Historic Site December 1 through 31. The Eisenhower home is decorated as it was during their presidential years in the 1950s: poinsettias, boughs of pine and holly, a tree surrounded by presents, and the dining room table set for Christmas dinner with the Eisenhower Wedgwood china and silver.

In the living room, park rangers regale visitors with tales of Eisenhower Christmases past while holiday music from the Eisenhower album collection provides background accompaniment. Original Eisenhower decorations are on display in the home and Eisenhower Christmas cards are on exhibit in the Reception Center.

The Christmas celebration includes a holiday reception featuring refreshments on December 8. During the reception, shuttle buses depart for the site from the National Park Service Visitor Center every hour, 9 am to 4 pm.


A Washington Christmas, George Washington Birthplace National Monument (Virginia)
Date/time: December 29, 2007, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM

George Washington loved music, dance and festive social occasions. Like other colonials, the Washingtons celebrated the Twelve Days of Christmas, beginning Christmas Day to Epiphany.

George Washington Birthplace will depict a colonial Chritmas with the Memorial House decorated for the holidays, candlelit and filled with colonial music. Throughout the day, the plantation will be busy with festivities and chores performed by the Birthplace volunteers.

For more information: call 804-224-1732, ext 227, or e-mail the park


FDR Holiday Open House, Franklin D. Roosevelt Nat’l Historic Site (Hyde Park, NY)
Date/time: December 8, 2007, 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Join NPS for an evening open house from 6pm to 9pm. Free Admission. There will be period holiday decorations and refreshments.

For more information: call 845-486-7745


Christmas at the LBJ Boyhood Home, Lyndon B. Johnson Nat’l Historical Park (Johnson City, TX)
Date/time: 12/1/2007 and 12/15/2007, 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM

In conjunction with the Johnson City Community’s celebration of “Lights Spectacular”, the LBJ Boyhood Home will be open for lamplight tours each Saturday from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on November 24, December 1, December 8, and December 15. National park rangers will provide tours of this historic house and explain life in Johnson City before rural electrification. The LBJ Boyhood Home is located on Elm Street, one block south of Highway 290 (“Main Street” in Johnson City). The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park Visitor Center, located one block south of the Boyhood Home, will also be open to the public on these Saturday evenings. Visitors may wish to view the exhibits, watch the movies on President and Mrs. Johnson, or do some holiday shopping in the park’s bookstore.

In addition, on December 8, visitors can then board the shuttle bus at the back gate of the Boyhood Home for a five minute ride to the Johnson Settlement, where they are guided by lantern light even further back in time to a late 1860s Christmas in frontier Texas. The first stop is the chuck wagon camp, where the cook is up late and happy to share tales of the trail drives by firelight. Further up the path is the original Sam Ealy Johnson cabin, where Lyndon Johnson`s grandparents first homesteaded in 1869.

This park event is complemented by the stunning lighting display at the Pedernales Electric Cooperative, across the street from the Boyhood Home, with majestic live oaks resplendent in hundreds of thousands of tiny white lights. In addition, the Blanco County Courthouse, just two blocks north of the Boyhood Home on Avenue G, is the centerpiece of the town’s seasonal celebration, “Lights Spectacular”, and is not to be missed.

For more information: call Sherry Justus (830) 868-7128 ext. 245


Compiled from the National Park Service and White House websites…

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