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.
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.
Next Stop – Big South Fork Scenic Railway