This Old Summer Whitehouse

Originally posted August 14, 2010.

Every summer there is a media frenzy speculating where the President will spend his summer vacation. The media needs to know such things as they have to set up camp somewhere to train cameras on the President 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. God forbid they miss one minute of watching him eat ice cream.

Barak Obama recently spent a long weekend at Acadia National Park in Maine. He is reported to be spending some time in Martha's Vineyard as he did last summer. George W. Bush spent his summer vacation clearing brush in his ranch in Texas. Bill Clinton visited Martha's Vineyard. George H. W. Bush went to his family retreat at Kennebunkport, on the coast of Maine.

But where did President William Howard Taft stay? Taft was the 27th president of the United States. He served one term from 1909-1913. He later became the 10th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and is the only president to have served on the court. He was a rather rotund person and had a specially crafted bathtub installed in the White House.

Stetson Cottage awaiting move to MarbleheadImage by Beverly Public Library, MA via Flickr
He and his family spent their first two summers away from the Washington DC heat, at Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. He rented a "cottage" called Stetson Hall from a Mrs. Marie Antoinette Evans

Boston's elite looked to the North Shore's Gold Coast to build their vast summer homes. Woodbury's Point eventually became Burgess Point which came to be controlled by the Evans family. The Evans' transformed the estate into one of the finest on the North Shore. In the summers of 1909 and 1910, President Taft leased the Stetson cottage which stood on today's Lynch Park rose garden. He made the cottage his summer White House. Beverly basked in the world's spotlight, as important leaders from around the world came to Beverly Massachusetts, Garden City and Summer Capital of the United States. Taft signed the "Treaty of Beverly" here, which laid the foundation for future U.S. tariff policies.

President Taft’s summerhouse is a perfect example of an archeological transformation. Or in this case, it was a transfer. President Taft spent his summers with his family in Beverly. His house was located in the present Lynch Park. However, Taft’s house is no longer located in Beverly. The entire house was lifted from its foundation, and floated by barge across Salem Sound to Marblehead, Massachusetts.

Former Stetson Hall Today - Marblehead, Massachusetts
After the summer of 1910, President Taft was informed by Mrs. Evans that his summer White House would no longer be available to him, as she was planning to construct an italian rose garden in its place. Rumor has it that Mrs. Evans was annoyed with the bustle that accompanied her esteemed tenant. The Secret Service constantly stopped, questioned and badgered her guests, while souvenir seekers dug up her garden, climbed her trees and even ripped off pieces of her house.

Taft did return to Beverly for his remaining two summers in the White House staying at another estate not for from the rose garden that replaced Stetson Hall. The cottage was moved by barge to Peache's Point in Marblehead, where it can still be seen today.

I guess moving the whole "cottage" is one way to get rid of that pesky President!

Float your home on a large barge over to Sepia Saturday to see many more fine posts.


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