The Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace

By Melnick, Richard J. | The Historian, Winter 1996 | Go to article overview

The Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace


Melnick, Richard J., The Historian


People sometimes come up with a grand idea to preserve something worth saving only to find that it has already been destroyed. Such was the case with the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace, now a national historic site run by the National Park Service, at 28 East 20th Street in New York City.(1)

Built in 1848, this typical New York brownstone was purchased in 1854 by Theodore's grandfather, Cornelius Van Schaack Roosevelt, as a wedding gift for the youngest of his five sons, Theodore (Sr.), and his bride, Martha Bulloch. Number 26 was given to Robert Roosevelt, Theodore Sr.'s older brother.

Theodore Roosevelt, the twenty-sixth U.S. president, was born on 27 October 1858 in the second-floor master bedroom and spent his first fourteen years at the house. "Teedie," as the family called him, was the second of four children. He had various health problems including severe asthma but fought with great courage to answer his father's challenge to improve his body, which lagged far behind his sharp mind. Unable to attend regular school, the young TR studied with tutors and developed a voracious appetite for books on natural history. He would eventually write more than fifty books on topics from nature to politics to diplomacy. …

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