The "Other White House": A Roundup of Presidential Retreats

The "Other White House": A Roundup of Presidential Retreats

Dabney Frake
Feb 20, 2012

Even leaders of the free world deserve some down time. Celebrate the holiday with a glimpse of our Presidents' other "White Houses" - private spots where they went with their families to rest, recuperate, and regroup, all away from the public eye. They range from glamorous to comfortably simple to downright austere.

White Pine Camp: Calvin Coolidge spent a summer in 1926 (with collies Rob Roy and Prudence Prim) at this basic camp on a lake in the Adirondacks. President Coolidge loved to fish during the day and watch movies at night.

Lincoln's Cottage: Honest Abe lived here for six months out of the year during the Civil War. The house (three miles north of the White House) was quiet and cooler than the capitol, and afforded time to think and write. His last visit was the day before his assassination in 1865.

Desert House: The foyer of the California ranch where Gerald Ford and Betty retired just after his presidency. The sprawling, light-filled home was an important sanctuary for the former first couple, especially as Betty became public about her struggle with addiction.

Blue Heron Farm: The Obamas spent three summers on this privately-owned spread on Martha's Vineyard. It's since been sold, and the First Family was forced to find another vacation spot on the popular island. Clinton was also said to have spent time there during his own term.

Monticello: Jefferson's self-made home in Virginia and the place where he did his best thinking and experimentation. It took years upon years to build and left Jefferson broke at the time of his death.

Pine Knot: The ultimate man cave, where Theodore Roosevelt went to rough it. The Virginia cabin was decidedly "no frills" without running water or a privy. It was the perfect place for Teddy to take a break and hunt in the woods around the property.

Truman's Little White House: Originally naval officers' quarters, this Key West abode became the Trumans' winter residence during his presidency and his second favorite place in the world, after hometown Independence, MO.

Kennedy Compound: Long the stronghold of the Kennedy clan, this cluster of traditional homes on Cape Cod is the site of countless gatherings and holidays. It's also where the family retreats to mourn after the public deaths of family members.

Crawford Ranch: Bush famously spent half the summer at his beloved ranch in Crawford, TX during his presidency, claiming the quiet spot helped clear his head and put everything in perspective. He and Laura returned to the recently remodeled home after leaving office. Jenna Bush chose to be married there in 2008.

Roosevelt's Little White House: FDR built this small house in Warm Springs, Georgia near the region's well-known 88 degree warm springs. He originally sought a cure for his polio in the waters, but found relaxation instead. For a family of significant means, the cottage is surprisingly basic with small rooms and plain wood furniture.

Presidents Day House Tour
Thomas' Custom Southern Charmer
Obama's Redesign of the Oval Office
Mini President Figurines

(Images: MWanner via Wikimedia Commons,,,,,,,, Barbara Weibel/

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