Visit Woodrow Wilson House in DC

Completed: 20. Visit Woodrow Wilson House in DC

I got really into The Washington Post’s Presidential Podcast last year. During the episode on Woodrow Wilson, the host visited his old house in DC — a house I didn’t know existed.

The Woodrow Wilson house is in the gorgeous, unobtainable, makes-you-feel-really-poor area of DC called Kalorama, future home of the Obamas. There is a $10 fee to tour the house.

The Wilsons bought this house for $150,000, which equates to $1.8 million today. In the 1920s, the Wilsons paid $50,000 of the house’s price tag with his Nobel Prize winnings, but leaned on friends’ generosity to help purchase the rest. It was beautiful.

President Wilson and his wife, Edith, lived in this house after his presidency and remained there until both of their deaths — his only a few years after the end of his term and hers decades later.

90-95% of the decorations are original, which was very cool. I didn’t take many pictures because 1. you can find them on the website and 2. my phone has very little space left for additional photos because I like to take pictures of my dogs.

So, here we are. Me and Woodrow, a complicated figure.

The tours are guided and are about an hour. During my trip, I learned:

  • While president, Wilson enjoyed visits to Keith’s vaudeville theater, which is no longer there and looks to be where the Old Ebbitt Grill is located. I have an interest in vaudeville and early days of movie industry, so I love this type of history.
  • He had a stroke later in his presidency and his wife made many decisions, though Edith resented the idea of her powerful role. She wanted to be known simply as his wife. Instead of being remembered as that president who was recovering from a stroke for the last few years of his presidency, you probably know him best as the League of Nations/Fourteen points/Screened Birth of a Nation in the White House guy. This legacy (not the racist legacy) and not the one of a sick and partially paralized man was preserved thanks to his wife.
  • Woodrow wore pince-nez style of glasses. These are the glasses without earpieces.
  • So. Pros: aggressive on moral diplomacy, bank reform, helped establish eight-hour work days, National Park Service. Cons: racism and infringed on civil liberties.



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