Last June (yes, I'm that far behind on weekly stay-cation time travel posts) we went to Gettysburg for yet another trip to see many various sites. The last time we were there, when we were driving the battlefield tour, we passed by signs for President Eisenhower's house. I hadn't realized he once lived there. Visiting his Gettysburg house went on our Time Travel List and at long last, here we were!
We caught a shuttle bus from the Gettysburg Battlefield Visitor Center. We arrived at the top of a hill where it was quite windy. The view of the mountains was quite pretty. My mom's family is from Pennsylvania so my childhood summers were spent near these same mountain chain (about 140 miles further north) so it reminded me of home.
Despite wanting to serve in WWI, West Point graduate Dwight D. Eisenhower's duty assignment was at Camp Colt in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. His ancestors had lived about 50 miles north of there in the 18th century. Eisenhower came to love the area. In 1950 he and his wife bought a farm there, complete with a red-brick farm house. Although the house was in terrible shape, one of the key selling points was the huge kitchen for the president to cook in. Eisenhower loved to cook! Because of the disrepair, remodeling soon began. Surprise! A 200 year old log cabin was found underneath the brickwork! Mamie asked them to salvage whatever they could. Part of the brickwork, the summer kitchen and the bake oven remain in the new building. Having lived on many military posts (I've seen some of those homes too) during their life time, and then the White House, Mamie said in 1978, "We had only one home-our farm."
Did you know that President Eisenhower was the first president to travel by helicopter?
The house tour included 8 bedrooms, 9 bathrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen, butler's pantry, glassed-in porch and his office (and more). Nearly all of the original items are still in the house. Lots of gifts and souvenirs from their travels around the world were to be seen. Everything was as they left it, with that distinctive 1950's feel. It was almost as if they'd walk into one of the rooms in any moment. The living room fireplace was once in the 1873 White House under President Grant's term. A painting of Prague, Czechoslovakia was given to General Eisenhower by the country's citizens after WWII. One of Eisenhower's unfinished paintings sits on the sunporch, awaiting him to pick up a paintbrush. Many of his other paintings are displayed on the walls. In Mamie's very pink dressing room sits her husband's West Point picture on which he wrote, "To the dearest, sweetest girl in the world..." The last room we visited was his office where we could hear the wind blowing outside. We had a few fun discoveries in this room. His desk is a reproduction of George Washington's desk, made with pine boards from the White House that were taken out in the 1948-1952 renovation. Also we noted in the bookcase a Will Durant book (we have his entire series in our bookcase at home-I highly recommend them! I used them in our homeschool highschool rhetoric studies).
Various guests included Nikita Khrushchev of the Soviet Union and Charles de Gaulle of France.
I read that Eisenhower grilled lots of black angus steak here.
Then my son took these next two pictures of us...
It was great fun sitting in Mamie's lovely rose garden (outside the glass sunroom) with my daughter. I was hoping for a better picture. I had asked for help in fixing my hair (that had tumbled out from my hat) but everyone insisted my hair looked okay. Hmmm...so now I can't use these pictures for much more than this blog post!
Our view from the garden was Eisenhower's putting green. Nearby was also the flag pole. When President Eisenhower was home, both the Presidential Flag and the American Flag flew from the pole. After his years of presidency were over he was reinstated as General of the Army, so from then on the five star flag flew from the pole.
We walked over to the show barn...
Eisenhower ran a successful Black Angus Cattle operation for 15 years, on 189 acres of his own land, and 306 acres of adjoining land.
He won many championships across America.
After passing the Secret Service building (where they were once housed when Eisenhower was in residence) we came to the museum...
After the tour it was time for lunch. We rode back to the visitor center to enjoy the picnic lunch I had assembled. For dessert I made some of Mamie's sugar cookies.
The recipe is here. In fact, many of Eisenhower's recipes are here and here since he loved to cook. Mamie claimed preparing only a few things like fudge and mayonnaise (according to the brochure). Not sure of the story behind Mamie's cookies, but they were delicious!
I also made this lobster roll.