William Howard Taft National Historic Site

William Howard Taft National Historic Site

Infobox_nrhp2 | name =William Howard Taft National Historic Site
nhl = yes
nhs = yes
cp = yes



caption = Taft House
location= 2038 Auburn Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio
lat_degrees = 39
lat_minutes = 7
lat_seconds = 11
lat_direction = N
long_degrees = 84
long_minutes = 30
long_seconds = 31
long_direction = W
locmapin = Ohio
map_caption = Location of Taft House in Ohio
area =3 acres (12,140 m²)
built =1842
architect=
architecture= Greek Revival
designated_nhl= January 29, 1964cite web|url=http://tps.cr.nps.gov/nhl/detail.cfm?ResourceId=447&ResourceType=Building
title= Alphonso Taft Home (William Howard Taft Home) |accessdate=2008-04-27|work=National Historic Landmark summary listing|publisher=National Park Service
]
added = October 15, 1966
established_nhs = December 2, 1969 [ [http://www.nps.gov/archive/wiho/adhi/adhi3.htm William Howard Taft NHS: An Administrative History (Chapter 3)] ]
visitation_num = 14,328
visitation_year = 2005
governing_body = National Park Service
refnum=66000612cite web|url=http://www.nr.nps.gov/|title=National Register Information System|date=2007-01-23|work=National Register of Historic Places|publisher=National Park Service]

William Howard Taft National Historic Site is a National Historic Site in Cincinnati, Ohio, maintained by the National Park Service of the United States. It was established in 1969.

At the site is the house where President of the United States and Chief Justice of the United States William Howard Taft was born in 1857; he lived in that house for most of his first 25 years.

The home is located in the Mount Auburn Historic District, a once-affluent suburb about a mile (1.6 km) north of downtown Cincinnati, but now within the Cincinnati city limits. The two-story Greek Revival house, built circa 1835, is a reminder of the elegant era when wealthier people here could escape the dirt, heat, smoke and crowded conditions of the lower city.

History

William Howard Taft's father, Alphonso Taft, came to Cincinnati from Vermont in 1839 to establish a law practice. He moved his family to this house ten years later. Alphonso Taft became an early supporter of the Republican Party in Cincinnati. He lived in this house with his large extended family. He would eventually serve as the 31st United States Secretary of War and the 35th United States Attorney General.cite web|url=http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/15taft/15facts2.htm
title= William Howard Taft's Boyhood Home: Determining the Facts: Document 1: The Taft Household from 1860-1880 |accessdate=2008-04-27|work=Teaching with Historic Sites Lesson Plans|publisher=National Park Service
]

The house is believed to have been built in the 1840s by a family named Bowen. Alphonso bought the house of 60 Auburn Street (now 2038 Auburn Avenue), with its accompanying two acres, for $10,000 on June 13, 1851. Mount Auburn was once a popular area to live for upper class Cincinnatians, as it allowed those of higher incomes to escape the sweltering heat and humidity of downtown Cincinnati summers. The Taft residence, a Greek Revival domicile, was actually quite modest compared to other nearby residences, which were a mix of Second Empire, Italianate, and Georgian Revival. [ [http://www.nps.gov/wiho/planyourvisit/things2do.htm William Howard Taft National Historic Site - Things To Do (U.S. National Park Service) ] ] cite web|url=http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/15taft/15taft.htm
title= Growing into Public Service: William Howard Taft's Boyhood Home |accessdate=2008-04-27|work=Teaching with Historic Sites Lesson Plans|publisher=National Park Service
] [ [http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/presidents/site51.htm National Park Service - The Presidents (Taft National Historic Site) ] ]

Alphonso's wife Fanny Phelps Taft died a year after the family moved to the Mount Auburn residence, in June 1852. In 1854 Alphonso remarried, choosing a school teacher from Massachusetts named Louise Torrey. Louise Taft would give birth to their second child William Howard Taft in the house on September 15, 1857, presumably on the first floor nursery in the rear ell. (The first child had died at age fourteen months from whooping cough.) Alphonso had six children, two by Fanny (three others had died beforehand) and four by Louise, living in the house. [ [http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/presidents/site51.htm National Park Service - The Presidents (Taft National Historic Site) ] ]

The house was used for social events. Visitors to the house included many local and state dignitaries, including future President James A. Garfield. Rugs in the parlor were often rolled up so that dancing could occur. Family activities occurred in the library; Alphonso was an avid book collector.cite web|url=http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/15taft/15facts1.htm
title= William Howard Taft's Boyhood Home: Determining the Facts/Reading 1: Will Taft Grows Up |accessdate=2008-04-27|work=Teaching with Historic Sites Lesson Plans|publisher=National Park Service
]

William would live in house until he went to Yale University in 1874. Afterwards, the Taft family would spend less time in house, starting when Alphonso served in the Ulysses S. Grant administration. In 1878 a fire damaged the second floor and roof. Alphonso and Louise would lease the house in 1889, moving to California for health reasons. William had married three years earlier, and the rest of the Taft children had moved out previously as well. In May 1891 Alphonso died in San Diego, California, and was buried in Cincinnati; the current tenants of the Auburn house allowed the mourners to gather at the house for the funeral. Louise eventually was able to sell the house outright, after ten years of trying, in 1899 to Judge Albert C. Thompson, after returning to her home town of Millbury, Massachusetts to live with her sister. [ [http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/15taft/15facts1.htm William Howard Taft's Boyhood Home-Reading 1 ] ] [ [http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/presidents/site51.htm National Park Service - The Presidents (Taft National Historic Site) ] ] cite web|url=http://www.nps.gov/archive/wiho/adhi/adhi1.htm
title=William Howard Taft Administrative History: CHAPTER 1: THE PROPERTY: ITS DEVELOPMENT AND HISTORICAL ASSOCIATIONS |accessdate=2008-04-28|work=|publisher=National Park Service
]

Post-Taft ownership

Within five years of the house leaving the Taft family, the front veranda was removed, replaced by a one-story porch. Other modifications were the addition of a conservatory and the demolition of outbuildings, including a stable. Upon Thompson's death the house sold by his widow to Colonel Ernest H. Ruffner in 1912. Upon Ruffner's death it was sold by his daughter. The William Howard Taft Memorial Association was formed in July 7, 1937, in hopes of buying the property, but went without support of the Taft family as Robert Taft thought it would look too opportunistic to memorialize the house his father grew up in, and thus failed in acquiring the $12,000 to buy it. In the 1940s the building was used as apartments, with the new owner Elbert R. Bellinger once considering selling it to become a funeral parlor for local blacks. Taft family political fortunes faltered with Robert's death in 1953, and with Charles Phelps Taft II available to spearhead the movement, the William Howard Taft Memorial Association eventually acquired the house for $35,000 (the assessment price), instead of the $75,000 Bellinger was demanding for it. [ [http://www.nps.gov/archive/wiho/adhi/adhi2.htm William Howard Taft NHS: An Administrative History (Chapter 2) ] ] By 1961, the house was in poor condition and need restoration, to the tune of $92,500. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1964.citation|title=PDFlink| [http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NHLS/Text/66000612.pdf National Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings: William Howard Taft Home] |32 KB|date=August 20, 1963 |author=S. Sydney Bradford |publisher=National Park Service] A ceremony on September 15, 1964 (William's 107th birthday) celebrated the home becoming a National Historic Landmark. The association gained full title to the house in 1968 and in 1969 transferred it to the National Park Service, which currently operates the site as a historic house museum, so that its future upkeep is ensured. The United States government took the property title on November 1, 1970. [ [http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/presidents/site51.htm National Park Service - The Presidents (Taft National Historic Site) ] ] [ [http://www.nps.gov/archive/wiho/adhi/adhi2.htm William Howard Taft NHS: An Administrative History (Chapter 2) ] ] [ [http://www.nps.gov/archive/wiho/adhi/adhi3.htm William Howard Taft NHS: An Administrative History (Chapter 3) ] ] [ [http://www.nps.gov/archive/wiho/adhi/adhi2a.htm William Howard Taft NHS: An Administrative History (Chapter 2) ] ]

The finding of letters written by William's mother Louise helped preservationists to return the domicile to how it appeared during William's childhood. [ [http://travel.howstuffworks.com/william-howard-taft-national-historic-site.htm Howstuffworks "William Howard Taft National Historic Site" ] ]

Today

William Howard Taft National Historic Site has two main buildings. The first is the original home owned by William Howard Taft's parents, Alphonso and Louise Taft. It has been restored to look as it did during the time William lived there. All the family portraits and many of the books belonged to the Taft family. The first floor has five rooms restored: William's birthplace, and four rooms representative of the period. The furniture are period pieces and have not necessarily belonged to the Tafts. The second floor contains exhibits on the accomplishments of William. [ [http://travel.howstuffworks.com/william-howard-taft-national-historic-site.htm Howstuffworks "William Howard Taft National Historic Site" ] ]

The second building is the National Historic Site's Visitor Center, officially called the Taft Education Center. It has offices, a National Park giftshop, an audio-animatronic exhibit of William's son Charles Phelps Taft II fishing and telling stories about his father and other members of the Taft family, and a short biographic film on William Howard Taft.cite web|url=http://www.cincinnatiusa.com/attractions/detail.asp?AttractionID=63
title=William Howard Taft National Historic Site |accessdate=2008-04-28|work=|publisher=CincinnattiUSA.COM
]

ee also

*Taft Museum of Art

References

External links

* [http://www.nps.gov/wiho/ William Howard Taft National Historic Site (National Park Service)]
* [http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/presidents/site51.htm National Park Service-The Presidents (Taft National Historic Site)]
* [http://www.nps.gov/history/NR/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/15taft/15taft.htm "Growing into Public Service: William Howard Taft's Boyhood Home"," a National Park Service Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) lesson plan]



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