While exploring Lower Manhattan, we came across another of those hidden gems that we enjoy discovering; the birthplace of Teddy Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States. Located on East 20th Street, just past the famed Gramercy Park, it is a National Historic Site administered by the National Park Service.
The original three-story brownstone, one of six built in the neighborhood at the time, was constructed in 1848. Teddy’s family purchased the home in 1854, while his uncle, Robert (a publisher), bought the one next door. The future president was born here on October 27, 1858 as the second of four children born to his parents. During his childhood, Teddy suffered from asthma and allergies, which pretty much confined him to the house. Teddy’s father ( who was one of the founders of the American Museum of Natural History) felt that exercise would cure his sickly son. So he built a gymnasium for Teddy off one of the second floor bedrooms. While being home-schooled (although he went on to earn a BA from Harvard University and a JD from Columbia University), he developed two strong interests; one of natural history (to the point of becoming a somewhat successful taxidermist) and one of reading (avidly consuming every book he get his hands on). When his parents felt the neighborhood was becoming too commercialized,, they moved the family uptown in 1872. By 1912, The Roosevelt home had been sold and torn down to make room for a retail establishment. Following the death of the 26th President in 1919, a preservation group bought the property and had Teddy’s house rebuilt, using his uncle’s house next door as a model (the uncle’s home eventually became part of the museum), to resemble what it looked like in the mid-1860’s. The building was eventually donated to the National Park Service in 1969 as a National Historic Site.
As with all of the other happenstance occurrences we’ve discovered, this was a fun and informative location.
The lower level Museum is replete with
old documents and photos depicting most of Teddy Roosevelt’s life...