Monday, October 22, 2012

Woodrow Wilson Birth Place & Museum

We spent the day in Staunton, VA beginning our explorations at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum on E. Frederick Street. We began our visit with a guided tour of the birthplace, a restored Greek Revival manse that served the Staunton Presbyterian Church where Wilson’s father was the pastor. The home is furnished with period pieces and Wilson family treasures. Unfortunately, like many such historic sites, we were not allowed to take pictures inside the house. 

Woodrow Wilson Birth Place

Loved these t-shirts in the gift shop

Both are sayings of Woodrow Wilson
The museum portion of the complex is a self-guided tour through galleries devoted to Wilson's early years, his Presidency, suffrage, prohibition and World War I.

The museum also houses a restored Pierce-Arrow limousine which Wilson used from the time he returned from France negotiating the Treaty of Versailles (1919) until the end of his Presidency. However, he liked the Pierce-Arrow so much that his friends purchased it for him when he left office so it became his personal automobile. The car is distinguished by two special emblems, the Presidential Seal on each of its rear doors and the symbol of the American Automobile Association on the front of the radiator panel as Wilson was the first President of the United States to join the association (which he did in 1917).

A highlight of the tour is the re-creation of trenches from WWI which attempt to give the visitor an understanding of what life was like for those doughboys living and fighting in those trenches including sound. There were also authentic weapons and uniforms from the period on display. 

As is the case with most Presidential Libraries which house the official papers of the men who have served in that position, you can’t examine any of the materials without submitting an application that states what papers you want to view and your purpose in studying the materials. This assures the integrity and condition of the collection. So from the museum, we went to the gardens behind the birthplace where you can wander to your heart’s content.

Steps from the garden to the back of the house

We spent nearly two hours immersed in Woodrow Wilson before heading off to Trinity Episcopal Church.

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