Beyond the presidential suite: historic hotels with a presidential past


Beyond the presidential suite: historic hotels with a presidential past


Traveling has been an essential presidential duty since George Washington first took office in 1789. U.S. presidents travel for a number of reasons – to attend summits and meet other heads of state; to christen national parks, ships, and aircraft carriers; to tour factories; to make speeches; to “press the flesh; and, of course, to relax.

While we here at Gadling are keen to bring you details on the most blinged-out Presidential suites (see our other post today on pimped out presidential suites in DC), we thought our readers would also appreciate a look at a wider range of properties where U.S. presidents have visited, stayed, or left their historic mark. Learn which hotel commissioned a special chair to hold the portly President Taft, which suite’s fireplace mantle retains a golf ball divot from an errant indoor presidential putt, and which resort kept an underground government-commissioned bunker secret until 1992.

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Where have U.S. presidents traveled and a personal sighting

The latest Concierge.com has an interesting slide show accompanied by text that covers various travel habits and destinations of American presidents through history. For example, Abraham Lincoln never left the United States, and Teddy Roosevelt is the first president to have traveled overseas while in office. Air travel had nothing to do with the amount, it seems. For example, check out Thomas Jefferson. He was an international traveling man for sure.

Browsing through the slides and texts is a bit of a history lesson, along with a glance at how presidents are tourists like the rest of us–except for the Secret Service. If you’ve ever seen a U.S. president in person, you’ve noticed the folks in suits.

The folks in suits is what tipped me of that I was about to get a presidential sighting when I was in Poland years ago. The first Bush–George Herbert Walker was in Warsaw at the same time. I was initially tipped off to some important happening by the American flags festooning the light posts of the street where we happened to be walking.

“Look at all those flags,” we said. “What’s that about?” The large parked cars with American diplomat license plates were another clue. “Hmmm, that’s interesting.”

“Isn’t President Bush on a world tour?” someone in my group asked. The dark suited men carrying walkie talkies and wearing sunglasses cinched it. We’d hang out with the rest of the commoners to see what came next.

Regardless of ones politics, there is something exciting about the hoopla that surrounds a presidential visit, particularly if you happen to be at a place where you didn’t expect a sighting. We might have been heading off for a bite to eat or to a museum. I can’t remember. As the years pass, the experience I remember most about the visit to Warsaw was that slice of time.

Before the motorcade approached, minutes after we stopped, the energy in the air crackled. People in the crowd craned their necks and stood on tip-toes, stretching for a glimpse. As the car road by and turned into the fortress of some official goverment type building, there was a flurry of waves and shouts in Polish.

My view of President George Bush, the elder, version and his wife Barbara was from a distance, but I could see both of them waving through the car window’s glass for a few seconds before they disappeared behind a gate and we continued on to wherever we were heading.

The photo is of President Dwight Eisenhower’s motorcade in Kabul. [Flickr/ Library of Congress via pingnews.]

Race and the ties that bind at Monticello

There is an article in today’s New York Times about Monticello. Not so much about Monticello, but about how the decedents of Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, and Sally Hemings, Jefferson’s slave who he supposedly had children with, have come to see the house as a place that binds them together. Jefferson, however, is buried in the graveyard, but Hemings is not. No one knows where Hemings is buried. Still, Jefferson’s grave holds importance, and like many places with historic value, people aren’t allowed to go near it. It has something to do with messing up the grass.

Monticello, according to the essay, is an indication of the complexity of United States history and the relationship between the people whose lives have been affected. It has become a place where healing can take place. One of the people mentioned in the article is from Gahanna, Ohio, not far from Columbus. She is a descendant of Hemings, and thus, possibly of Jefferson. For her, Monticello is a place that fosters the idea that folks ought to learn to get along since they may be related to each other after all.

The essay brought to mind the idea that places have meaning when the people who go there understand its importance. Otherwise, one might be walking through just another fancy house with gleaming wood furniture and fine china.

Rutherford B. Hayes and the Easter Egg Roll connection

When Rutherford B. Hayes was the 19th president,of the U.S. he started the tradition of the Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn. The tradition has since carried over to Hayes’ estate in Fremont, Ohio. Every year, kids show up at Spiegel Grove with hardboiled, colored eggs in hand to participate in egg related contests and scarf down Easter goodies. This year, it’s March 22. So, that’s one afternoon. What about the rest of the year?

The estate, part of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center, has the original gates from the White House and is where Hayes and his wife Lucy are buried. Other points of interest are the presidential library— the first ever presidential library, in fact. Also, there are Hayes’ and his wife’s 31-room mansion, and a museum that chronicles Hayes’ life, presidency and Ohio history to add to a trip here.

For some reason, unknown even to me, (and I’ve written about this place before), I left the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center out of my U.S. presidents with Ohio connections round-up post. So, if you’re going to head to the spots where U.S. presidents lived, head here. It’s part of the Ohio Historical Society’s several landmark holdings, and one of the state’s signature places.