The Idyllic Fatherhood Moment – Sagamore Hill

Sagamore Hill is the home of one of the most revered leaders in our nation’s history. Nestled on a hill in the quaint town of Oyster Bay, New York, sits the charming home of Theodore and Edith Roosevelt and their children. A great reason NOT to take a house tour with children is the fear of their boredom, disrupting others, or the need to preemptively leave the tour. But my wife and I decided to make the attempt regardless with our 6-month-old son, Aiden. Although too young to truly appreciate the splendor and magnificence of the first-floor rooms and their stories, his eyes explored the room, undoubtedly recognizing images of things he has seen in the books we read to him daily. Buffalo heads, cheetah print blankets, rows and rows of books, ivory tusks, and life-sized portraits. The impressiveness of the first floor of Sagamore Hill is difficult to describe and leads to an awe-inspiring visit.

Sagamore Hill

As we continued our tour to the second floor, the moment we were holding our breath hoping to avoid began, as my son started crying. We realized we were getting those looks from the other visitors on the tour thinking, “Why did you have to bring a child on this tour? How inconsiderate!” A quick look over to my wife and we knew it was time to separate from the pack. She walked off into a side room, rocking my son habitually. In the uncomfortably awkward moments that followed, something remarkable happened that would not otherwise have occurred. I wandered away briefly from the group to check on my son and witnessed a sight that I may never forget. There standing in just another bedroom on another historic home tour was my wife holding our son asleep in her arms. But this room was different. When Theodore Roosevelt was raising his children in this home, the room was used as a nursery. Our 26th president undoubtedly stood in the same room as my wife, rocking his own children to sleep. As my son peacefully slept in her arms, the difference between the life of a US president and my own seemed to shrink immeasurably. These are the moments that making excuses will cause you to miss. A room that would have been honored with a 10 second viewing otherwise, turned into a memorable moment in my new life role as a father.

As the tour moved on to its conclusion on the expansive front porch, I sat down in a rocking chair and held my son. I looked over the scenery with the American flag flapping in the wind, contemplating life, just as Roosevelt must have 100 years earlier. Sagamore Hill allows visitors to transport themselves into the life and mind of an American hero. Touring the house of a man renowned for his family-oriented lifestyle with your own children can only emphasize the connection you will make to history visiting the site.

Aiden with his first Junior Ranger badge

Next Stop – Big South Fork Scenic Railway

William Seward House

Local gem in Small Town USA

Hidden away in central New York is a site dripping in political manipulation and historical enlightenment. Although a marginal figure in American history, William Seward’s mansion in Auburn, New York, transports visitors into the story of a life that epitomizes an historic house tour. Seward is known for his “folly” purchasing Alaska from Russia, but do you know his connection to the Underground Railroad as well as the success of Harriet Tubman? Do you know the gruesome story of an assassination attempt on his life that took place simultaneously to the attack on Abraham Lincoln? The back-story behind our 24th Secretary of State’s life is highlighted by the moving account of his daughter’s death as well as his wall of famous faces, both integral points of the tour. His burial is not far away, in a charming, hilly cemetery where he is not alone in his fame, thanks to the presence of Harriet Tubman’s headstone, where remembrances honoring her heroism are ever present. Immerse yourself in a life less-known, a man that played an integral role in our nation’s history. A man who steered the country through the Civil War, the beginning of reconstruction, and secured valuable land and resources. He definitely deserves a spot on your next itinerary as you travel across New York State. Auburn, New York, a short drive off of interstate 90, is the personification of Small Town USA. But unfortunately this is an example of a place where hidden gems are left unvisited. When you finish your tour, consider visiting the Auburn Prison, Harriet Tubman NHP, or possibly Prison City Pub and Brewery, where you will have the craft brewing experience of your dreams.