Friday, August 08, 2008

Part I: Sagamore Hill

Sagamore Hill was the home of Theodore and Edith Roosevelt. This is a huge estate, especially on the East Coast (and Long Island to add), and has remained relatively large. It is a gorgeous area and very serene. You can even walk a nature trial and see the bay (Oyster Bay). The house was out of the family and thus has been preserved moreorless intact for us, as have most of the furnishings. As you walk into the house (no AC, by the way, which in July you definitely notice!), you can feel TR’s presence. There are animal hides, heads and trophies EVERYWHERE!! For an animal enthusiast, this is a great place as you will see many exotic animals from his hunting trips as well as more common animals. The only place without the game heads is Edith’s drawing room, where she decreed that there would only be minimal. TR actually bought the property and started plans for the house with his first wife, Alice, but after she died, he left the building to his sister, Anna, and he went off to North Dakota. He eventually moved in with Edith.

This room, TR’s library, was used as his summer White House. Unlike earlier Presidents, TR didn’t take the summers off, merely relocated to his home here to escape Washington’s heat. Before they installed a phone, he had a runner to bring him messages from town.

You get to see the entire house, which includes the children’s bedrooms (for instance, you can see Alice’s), servants’ quarters, the kitchen and dining rooms, TR’s gun room, and the huge North Room. TR died in this house and you will see the room where he died in 1919.

There are so many great pieces in this house. There is a cool buffalo hide that shows the Native American’s view of the Battle of Little Big Horn that was given to TR by Native Americans. TR’s rough rider outfit is also here. There are huge tusks on display (the second largest ever) and list just goes on.

Quentin Roosevelt died in World War I and there is a memorial to him out front. He is actually buried in France, with his brother, who died in World War II (actually of a heart attack after leading his troops on D-Day).

On the grounds, you will also find a pet cemetery, the old carriage path, the visitor’s center, a windmill, and then the Old Orchard Museum. While the house is a guided tour, you can walk through the Old Orchard Museum on your own (and it has AC!) to learn about TR. This museum was originally the home of General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. in 1937.

Things to Remember When Visiting:
  • Remember to check the times of the guided tours if you plan to go through the house, as the tour is at least an hour and you probably want to start with that.

  • Getting on and off Long Island is a pain and there are tolls for all the bridges, so bring cash. You also can’t pay with a credit card for the tour, although you buy stuff from the gift shop with one (don’t ask me why…).

  • The Oyster Bay area is simply lovely and worth the time to drive around a bit, but do get directions. Once you are close there are signs, but it still can be hard to find with New York traffic. There is also private property all around, so make sure to respect property lines.

  • You can take pictures and whatnot on the grounds, but remember no photography in the house.

  • If you come in the summer, bring water for after the tour – you will be hot and sweaty!

If you have the time and are in the area, this is definitely worth the time. My husband and I both really enjoyed this tour plus at $5 a person, it is definitely worth it.


Greg Bevier said...

No air conditioning? Even Warren G. Harding's home in Marion, Ohio has had AC added!

Scott said...

TR remains my favorite president. His life as a reformer and the emotional strain he had to overcome becomes a very personal story that I can relate.

However, if you plan to go, getting to and from Long Island is not an issue. As a Native New Yorker, I know the routes, but I understand where others need help. But there are three bridges from the north, plenty of bridges and tunnels from the west to get to Long Island. Then it is a matter of knowing to take the Long Island Expressway or the Grand Central-Northern State Parkway routes.

Once in Oyster Bay (I used to live in Mineola), it is not difficult to find. You do need directions, which could be found on any website or within Oyster Bay itself. Sagamore Hill is a very well known destination on Long Island and many people know where it is.

Come prepared for the trip, like you would do for any trip. And maybe stay for a while. Oyster Bay is a nice area and nearby Syosset has a few good restaurants.

Down the road a bit a little south of where the Meadowbrook and Northern State Parkways meet (specifically the Meadowbrook and Old Country Road) is the Glen Cove/Westbury areas where there is a lot of shopping and dining. Drive east on Old Country Road and you will find Fortunoffs, one of the best stores in the world!

Gee... and I am not even being paid by the Long Island Tourism Authority!! :-)

The Washington Pugilist said...

There have been a good amount of TR posts at the American Presidents Blog lately, and since you guys liked the Hayes post at the Washington Pugilist, you may want to check out the new post on Roosevelt.

Christy said...

Oh, I can't wait to see Sagamore Hill. Thanks for the review. Knowing what you are looking for makes it all the more enjoyable to me!

I love your blog, too, by the way!

Scott said...

Today is the sesquicentennial of the birth of Theodore Roosevelt. Born October 27, 1858, in New York City. Roosevelt was a prolific author, naturalist, hunter, and politician who became the youngest president of the United States upon the assassination of William McKinley.

Amongst his accomplishments, TR was the first US president to win the Nobel Peace Prize, added more land to the National Park System than any other president, and was our first "trust busting" president.

For those of us who are in numismatics, TR was responsible for the renaissance of our coinage. Roosevelt was directly instrumental in the designs of Augustus Saint Gaudens for the gold eagle ($10) and double eagle ($20) coins. It was TR who was convinced by Russian immigrant, Victor David Brenner to change the cent to honor Abraham Lincoln. The Brenner portrait of Lincoln is 99 years old and our longest lasting design.

Sometime today, I will post more about TR and numismatics on my blog,

Happy Birthday TR!