Historic House Porn: "Houses of the Presidents"

With gorgeous photos and a rich, fascinating text (can you guess which president's mother totally redesigned her son's home, shutting out his wife?), "Houses of the Presidents" is the gift book that will grab everyone on your list, from your history-buff grandfather to your real-estate-obsessed sister

By More Editors
Photograph: Roger Straus III

Some of them are childhood homes; some are weekend escapes. A few  are luxurious; others are modest family dwellings. One is an apartment building in Honolulu. But all of them are houses of U.S. presidents, and in this book you learn something personal about each of these men and get a sense of how they actually lived.  The photographs are highly evocative, with a strong sense of place. The text encompasses architectural history, family stories and presidential lore. Do you know which president chose for his retirement a house adjacent to a Civil War battlefield? Or which one had a special raft fabricated in order to have a phone handy when he was in the swimming pool?  Or which one said that being at his home made him feel as if he were "on a cloud looking down on the world"?  The answers are all here, along with fascinating stories of the women in these men's lives, among them strong characters like Martha Washington, who brought to her husband, a Virginia planter of middling means, the money and social contacts that made possible his rise to the presidency; Miss Harriet Lane, an orphaned niece of  James Buchanan, who grew up to be her bachelor uncle's official hostess at the White House; and Bill Clinton's mother and grandmother, who shaped his destiny in a little house in Hope, Arkansas. A visual treat and an entertaining and informative read—perfect for anyone on your list? 

First Published Mon, 2012-12-10 18:44

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