Woodrow Wilson House

I visited the Woodrow Wilson House, the house he retired to after the presidency. The house and furnishings and decorations are as he left them.

I took pictures.

Once there, I first watched a short video biography on Woodrow Wilson. I learned he was an intellectual academic who became president. There aren't many of those. He wanted to concentrate on domestic policies but, due to World War I, he ended up doing a lot of foreign policy. Ah, how external circumstances can determine the agenda.

I took a guided tour. It's a respectable house, nowhere near as extravagant as the Anderson house (which I also visited), though both were decorated at around the same time. They just have different tastes.

My tour guide was enthusiastic (despite there being only two of us on the tour) and knowledgeable. I learned a lot during the tour.

The president used to be allowed to keep gifts he received. This isn't true anymore. Lots of these gifts are decorations in the house, including a micro-mosaic (gift from the pope), a French tapestry (a Gobelins tapestry) (the Wilsons really didn't want it but had to accept it for diplomatic reasons), a kangaroo coat (from Australia), and painted plates (from Belgium).

Mrs. Wilson had an important role when the president was recovering from his stroke. No one's sure what power she had, though many hypothesize it might be like a chief of staff.

Woodrow founded a law firm after retiring from the presidency. He refused to take any cases that involved federal courts to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest. He couldn't find enough acceptable cases and a year later dissolved the partnership.

Mrs. Wilson outlived Woodrow Wilson by 37 years. She never remarried. One of her activities during this time was going to all the openings of schools, post offices, etc. named in his honor.

Pretty much everything in the home is original. Partially this is because Mrs. Wilson saved everything, including, for example, the empty bottle of the wine she shared with Jacqueline Kennedy.

I can tell from the closet that Mrs. Wilson was a fashionable woman. She especially liked Chinese fans.

The house has some Pocahontas imagery. Mrs. Wilson is a direct descendant of hers.

After the tour, I stuck my head in a text-heavy exhibit about the second industrial revolution (which occurred around the time of Wilson's presidency). The exhibit wasn't much connected to Wilson, my brain was full, and the house was closing soon, so I didn't spend much time there.

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