Travel Log: Calvin Coolidge State Historic Park

We did not know much about Calvin Coolidge, so when we found out his birthplace and museum was close by we thought it a good opportunity to learn.

Coolidge was the 30th U.S. president, serving in that office from 1923 to 1929. He was Vice President under Warren G. Harding, ascending to the presidency when Harding died from heart failure. He was known for his preference for a smaller, leaner federal government and he self-imposed a term limit by not seeking a second elected term, even though his popularity was high. As described at the historic site, and quoted in this Wikipedia article, “In the summer of 1927, Coolidge vacationed in the Black Hills of South Dakota, where he engaged in horseback riding and fly fishing and attended rodeos. He made Custer State Park his ‘summer White House.’ While on vacation, Coolidge surprisingly issued a terse statement that he would not seek a second full term as president: ‘I do not choose to run for President in 1928.’ After allowing the reporters to take that in, Coolidge elaborated. ‘If I take another term, I will be in the White House till 1933 … Ten years in Washington is longer than any other man has had it—too long!’ In his memoirs, Coolidge explained his decision not to run: ‘The Presidential office takes a heavy toll of those who occupy it and those who are dear to them. While we should not refuse to spend and be spent in the service of our country, it is hazardous to attempt what we feel is beyond our strength to accomplish.'”

The Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site has the birthplace and early homestead of the Coolidge family. This small historical community of Plymouth Notch has been marvelously preserved largely because of the donations of the Coolidge family.

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Although you can just drive through the town, you’re supposed to purchase an admission sticker before entering any of the preserved buildings.
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Coolidge is the last president not to have an “official” presidential library (a system established under FDR) and Coolidge’s successor, Herbert Hoover, is the first to have one. This site serves as a major repository of Coolidge memorabilia. There are other historic sites in Massachusetts as well where he lived and practiced law.
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The Coolidge’s enjoyed their pets, hosting a number of them at the White House, including several dogs, cats, and even Rebecca the Raccoon!
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We did not go to every preserved building, but we did visit the visitor center (1), multi-level barn (2 & 3), store/birthplace/meeting hall (12), homestead (5), church (11), garden (10), blacksmith shop (9), cheese factory (6), schoolhouse (7), and cemetery (16).
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This multi-level barn was built into the hillside so there was a basement entrance and a main floor entrance, with stairs to the upper level as well.
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They had a nice collection of horse-drawn conveyances which were typical of those in use at the turn of the 20th century.
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The main structure had 3 levels of displays of farming equipment.

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This building housed a store on the first level, a post office and meeting room on the second level, and the original home and birthplace of Coolidge. His family moved across the street when he was four.
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This was the room in which Calvin was born.
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The store still had some original fixtures and not-for-sale items which had been part of the store’s supplies when Coolidge was growing up.
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This countertop was made by Coolidge as he apprenticed in woodworking as a teenager.
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This stairway led to the meeting room upstairs, which served for a time as Coolidge’s summer white house location.

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The room also did duty as a town dance hall!
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When Coolidge was four his family moved into this larger home across the street from the store.
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When Harding died, Coolidge’s father administered the oath of office to his son.

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The house, including the back barn, still contains original Coolidge family possessions.

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The Union church is where the family regularly worshipped together.
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The flag marks the pew where the Coolidge family regularly sat together.
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Coolidge’s mother kept a garden planted very much like this one.
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Up the street was the cheese factory run by the Coolidge family.

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The Coolidge family is buried in the Plymouth Notch cemetery.
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Graves marking Calvin’s father, mother (who died when he was a child), step-mother, and sister (who also died while he was a child).

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2 thoughts on “Travel Log: Calvin Coolidge State Historic Park

  1. So interesting, Steven, and great pictures. We’re never too old to learn, and i like the way you turn around and teach us what you’re learning!

    Like

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