On Beginnings and Endings, Part 2

“Great men are the ambassadors of Providence sent to reveal to their fellow men their unknown selves. To them is granted the power to call forth the best there is in those who come under their influence…No man was ever meanly born. About his cradle is the wondrous miracle of life. He may descend into the depths, he may live in infamy and perish miserably, but he is born great. Men build monuments above the graves of their heroes to mark the end of a great life, but women seek out the birthplace and build a shrine, not where a great life had its ending but where it had its beginning, seeking with a truer instinct the common source of things not in that which is gone forever but in that which they know will again be manifest. Life may depart, but the source of life is constant” — Calvin Coolidge, Women’s Roosevelt Memorial Association, New York, January 23, 1921

 

Rutherford Birchard Hayes 

  • Born October 4, 1822, in Delaware, Ohio. Father Rutherford and mother Sophia, Vermont shopkeepers, had left the Green Mountain State for central Ohio in 1817. Loss would strike early with father Rutherford’s death just ten weeks before the future President’s arrival. Raised by his mother, “Rud” and sister Fanny were the two of four Hayes children who survived childhood. Their two-story house on Williams Street in Delaware fell into neglect and was finally acquired by Standard Oil in 1921, which only afterward discovered its historical nature as a Presidential birthplace. Standard Oil put up the first $500 and offered to sell it back to the town if the remaining $7,500 could be raised. The effort failed to attract enough support and only $4,760 was raised. The home was demolished in 1926 and the lot turned into a gas station, as it is today. The Daughters of the American Revolution, at that same time, put up the plaque that serves as the oldest of now three markers in the town to “Rud” Hayes. An imposing 7-foot bronze of Hayes now stands at the corner of Sandusky and Williams Streets and a plaque in honor of Delaware’s now remembered son marks the connection. Hayes stock is certainly on the rise.
  • Rutherford B. Hayes died on January 17, 1893, at Spiegel Grove, Fremont, Ohio. The place that above all others would constitute home for Hayes and his family was the great house in Fremont, Ohio. Begun by the President’s uncle Sardis Birchard in 1859, to serve as a summer retreat to spend time with his nephew and family, it took five years to complete due to the scarcity of materials during the war. With three boys and four more to come, joined by one sister (though two boys would die in childhood), the Hayes clan needed space and lots of potential for exploration.
  • Something about Spiegel Grove reflects this irrepressible energy. There are lots of surprises to be discovered there too, more than you would think could be found in quiet Fremont. Sardis’ inclusion of a wrap-around verandah was especially delightful to his nephew and family. “Rud” spent the next twenty years adding on, making changes, planning further and installing new pieces to the place. The walnut and butternut staircase ascending to a 360-degree view of the property, put in as he prepared to leave the Presidency and retire, was part of how the house grew to meet transition. Where to fit his now 12,000-volume library became another impetus to expansion. It was during the last set of changes, in 1889, however, with the creation of more bedrooms and other spaces for the grandchildren, that former First Lady Lucy Hayes died. By then the 8-room original had mushroomed into a 31-room mansion. Hayes would stay and find comfort in the great house where so many joys had been shared. Like Tyler’s Sherwood Forest, a pet cemetery resides there too. He passed quietly among family and was first placed alongside her at the public cemetery in Fremont. In 1916, with the construction of the Hayes Museum near the home, they were reinterred together, with stones of Vermont granite (brought from the old Hayes homestead in Dummerstown, Vermont), beneath a wooded knoll on the grounds, a feature on the property they particularly loved.

 

James Abram Garfield 

  • Born November 19, 1831, in a log cabin built by his father Abram at Orange Township, Ohio. The last President to begin life between the walls of a cabin, Garfield would (like Hayes before him) never know his father, losing him in the first few months after his birth. His mother Eliza would raise him and the two would remain close for the rest of his life, Eliza surviving him by seven years. A testament to the changes of time, a replica of the Garfield cabin stands in Moreland Hills, the modern designation for old Orange Township, now a suburb of Cleveland.
  • As the appeal of “front porch” campaigns gained steam after early iterations by William Henry Harrison and others, Garfield built effectively on that concept. It seems to be especially a favorite approach among our Ohio Presidents, the campaigns of McKinley and Harding being even better known practitioners of this homely, approachable style toward voters. As such, the Garfield home in Mentor, Ohio, which the press called Lawnfield (as they camped out on the front lawn while covering his Presidential campaign), continues to this day as the clearest view into the man, his family, and at least some of the qualities that brought him to the White House. Bought in 1876, “Mentor Farm” (as the Garfields called it) transitioned in the future President’s hands from 8 to 20 rooms and it was from here that Crete (Lucretia, his wife) established the Memorial Library in his honor, a precedent taken up by nearly every President contemporary to him and since. A voracious reader, Garfield combined real scholarship with selfless public service. His tenure may have been cut short but his legacy lives.
  • James A. Garfield died on September 19, 1881, at Elberon, New Jersey. Underscoring the agony that was the summer of 1881, we come to the site of a seaside cottage that now no longer stands, being torn down almost immediately after it failed to furnish the hoped for recovery of the President, shot eleven weeks earlier. Only a stone marker designates where the cottage stood, placed there through the lobbying efforts of twelve year old Bruce Frankel in 1961, who succeeded after four years of undeterred focus to remember the man once sincerely beloved by the nation. It is suitable that a boy gave the moving power to such a remembrance.
  • The imposing Garfield Memorial, rising as a sandstone sentinel above Lake Erie, in Cleveland’s Lake View Cemetery gives us a measure of how the nation once felt about him. Designed by George Keller, the Memorial was dedicated in the presence of former President Hayes, sitting President Harrison, and future President McKinley. Garfield’s body was solemnly interred within on that Memorial Day in 1890. Combined with Keller’s Gothic design, terra cotta panels by Caspar Bubel and a statue of Garfield by Alexander Doyle complete the story that endures here for all to witness.

 

Chester Alan Arthur 

  • Born October 5, 1829, in Fairfield, Vermont. Or, at least, we think so. Chester Arthur, it seems, draws controversy even still. The rumors at the time of his political notoriety that he was born on the Canadian side of the border continue to brood in the debate over where he was, in fact, born. The land on which the house originally sat was presented to the state of Vermont in 1903. The house, no longer there by that time, would be reconstructed in 1953, using old photographs of the original but, as often happens, further research found not only does this structure not correlate with the home in which Arthur was born (it was actually the second place the Arthur family lived following his arrival) but even the year was changed in his own accounts. His father, William, was an Irish immigrant to Canada who met and married Vermont-born Malvina Stone. “Chet” was actually the fifth of nine children, a preacher’s son.
  • Chester A. Arthur died on November 18, 1886, in New York City. He spent most of his life in Manhattan, living at 123 Lexington Avenue. It bears little resemblance inside or out to how it was when the President made this place home but, as often occurred when Arthur was involved, it once had a grand presence. It was where he took the oath of office when word of Garfield’s death came to his door on September 20, 1881. And it was in the privacy of his Lexington Avenue residence that he surrendered to the illness (what would later come to light as Brights’ disease) he knew was taking him to rejoin his late wife, Ellen, in eternity. Arthur is buried among family in the Albany Rural Cemetery in Menands, New York. Ephraim Keyser, in 1889, crafted a fine bronze sculpture of an angel placing a bronze palm leaf over the dark granite sarcophagus that contains his body. A bronze of Arthur himself stands in Madison Square in New York, installed there in 1898.
  • He had made good, done better than nearly everyone expected and proved faithful to a trust America believed he did not possess. He demonstrates the transformative power of integrity, whether the Office changes the man or the man resolves to do what is right, whatever he has been in the past. President Arthur deserves better than he has received from historians. That, too, is beginning to change.

 

Stephen Grover Cleveland

  • Born March 18, 1837 in the Manse (parsonage) of the Presbyterian Church in Caldwell, New Jersey. Born to Reverend Richard and Ann Cleveland and named for the preacher who preceded Richard at Caldwell, “Big Steve” was (like his Presidential predecessor, Chester Arthur) the fifth of nine children. Like many minister’s families, they did not stay in one place too long: leaving Caldwell, they soon found their way to Fayetteville and then Clinton, before Grover ventured on alone to Buffalo. His uncle there, Lewis Allen, would prove instrumental in the trajectory of Cleveland’s life, convincing him to stay and make a future there. Friends who remain long after a President’s service is done are true friends indeed. Grover kept a devoted number of them and it was that nucleus which began the process to acquire and preserve the parsonage in 1907, while Cleveland was still alive. The site would open to the public in 1913 and continues as the most enduring location dedicated to Cleveland’s memory today. Like in Fillmore’s case, there is not as much in Buffalo (or any other of the many places, for that matter, with a Cleveland connection) as there should be to this honorable, big-hearted, and courageous man. Maybe that is about to change.
  • It strikes the observer as interesting, even curious, that Presidents of certain marked similarities, at times, seem to follow in pairs. Of course, contrasts abound…we have Adams and Jefferson, Buchanan and Lincoln, TR and Taft, Ike and JFK. But we also see the parallels: Hayes and Garfield, both Ohioan veterans, both fatherless but both raised by stalwart mothers; Arthur and Cleveland, both preacher’s sons, both adopted New Yorkers, both fond of good company and both bachelor-Chief Executives (Arthur, who remained a widower while, in Grover’s case, was only a bachelor at the start of his first term); and Harrison and McKinley, both Ohioan commanders of volunteer units, both operating variations of the homespun, log cabin-front porch motif, and both discovering what it was like to follow Grover Cleveland’s bulldog-like tenacity in the Presidency.
  • Grover Cleveland died on June 24, 1908, at Westland in Princeton, New Jersey. Named for the Princeton University Professor (Andrew F. West) who, more than any other, facilitated his move to Princeton, the house had been designed by Robert Stockton in 1856. The President, always on the look for where to settle his growing family next, obtained the residence in 1896, just before pulling up stakes in Washington for the last time. He would improve the place, endear himself to Princeton’s students, add a pool table on the ground floor, and thoroughly relish their new life near the University. Never having gone to college, Grover prized not only improving the mind and body but of constructing sound character. He knew it was not enough to be intellectual, the real test was in the quality of manhood and womanhood given proper place in the development of young people. Cleveland’s body rests in the Princeton Cemetery. Though his wife, Frances, married again, her body rests beside his at Princeton. On either side of them, are daughters Ruth (who perished in 1904) and Marion (who joined them there in 1977). Daughter Esther and sons Richard and Francis are buried elsewhere. It seems fitting that Grover and Frank are, as they were in life, surrounded by children.

 

Benjamin Harrison 

  • Born August 20, 1833, at “The Big House” on his grandfather’s property in North Bend, Ohio. The grand home no longer stands but a marker identifies where the property once sprawled overlooking the Ohio River on its winding path west. Benjamin’s grandfather, President William Henry Harrison, and father, John Scott Harrison, are buried near the old site atop Mt. Nebo. Grandson Benjamin, though born a Buckeye, would become a Hoosier, as he began a new life in Indianapolis in 1854, less than two hours to the northwest.
  • The rising lawyer chose the still wide open northern outskirts of Indianapolis for a new home that would encourage the migration north of the city’s leading citizens. On North Delaware Street, just past I-65, the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site is now virtually at the geographic center of Indianapolis today. Construction began in 1874 and was completed the following year, though originally without the front porch that would belong seamlessly with the home once it was added in 1896, only after Harrison had returned to private life. Continuing the “front porch” campaign tradition of predecessors like Garfield and successors like McKinley, Harrison actually gave his political speeches  for President to crowds gathered in the street in front of his home, demonstrating how to accomplish the same style without a literal front porch on which to deliver.
  • Benjamin Harrison died March 13, 1901 in Indianapolis. He passed away at home, in the quiet of his bedroom on the second floor of the beautiful house on Delaware Street. He, like John Tyler and Millard Fillmore, would lose his first wife and marry again. As such, his body rests a short distance away at the well-known Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, joined by first wife Carrie and second wife Mary.

 

William McKinley

  • Born January 29, 1843, in Niles, Ohio. Sometimes, beginnings and endings experience a tumultuous separation before reunion brings the pieces again together. Such has been the case with President McKinley’s birth home. The six-room double house was rented by the parents of the future President to fit a family that would grow to nine children. The President’s father, born in Pennsylvania, worked in pig iron and labored to feed four boys and five girls before the McKinleys moved on to Poland, Ohio, when young William was nine. McKinley and his mother later returned only once to the site at which time he gave a speech to the crowds gathered there to welcome him. Almost everything changed about the house, the lot it rested upon, and the town of Niles itself. The home became a store then was split into two to make way for a series of banks on the site. The half in which McKinley was born moved to Riverside Park. The other half went to Franklin Alley to begin life as a shop for manufacturing rotary press parts. By 1901, Riverside Park had failed and the half-house there languished. The two would actually be rescued and rejoined in 1909 to find renewed attraction as a Presidential tour site at Tibbetts Corners thanks to Mrs. Lulu Mackey, at what is now the intersection of Robbins Avenue and Route 422. An enthusiast for all things McKinley, she gathered a wide collection of memorabilia from across the years relating to the 25th President, including artifacts from McKinley’s time in Canton.
  • The dedication of the McKinley Birthplace Memorial in downtown Niles by 1917, however, upstaged the home, which sadly, burned in 1937, four years after Mrs. Mackey’s death. As the original site of the home on Main Street passed through a series of banks, the original location was once again claimed for the reconstruction (along the original plan of the double-house) of a McKinley birthplace. The McKinley Birthplace Home and Research Center finally came to fruition in 2003.
  • William McKinley died September 14, 1901, in Buffalo, New York. Having attended the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, he decided to return later to provide an opportunity for the many attendees to see and greet him once more before the President’s departure. Entering the Temple of Music on the afternoon of September 6, McKinley left it wounded and when the medical tent there failed to furnish adequate care, the President was rushed to the home of John G. Milburn, a civic leader in Buffalo and leading attorney (who had been McKinley’s host during the visit) on Delaware Street. The press camped on the street, the police attempted to cordon off the area from the curious and McKinley succumbed to infection in the wound eight days later. Vice President Theodore Roosevelt, just down the same Delaware Avenue in Buffalo at the home of Ansley Wilcox, would be administered the oath of office upon confirmation of McKinley’s death. The Wilcox House still stands and is open for tours. The Milburn House, however, is now no more. After being converted to apartments in 1919, it is now the parking lot for a local high school. A marker is the only sign of the history that happened there. Being the third President to fall by assassination, it would permanently change the status quo when it came to security provisions and Presidential protection. It would begin an aspect of the Secret Service’s work for which it is most famous.
  • The final resting place of President McKinley is in Canton, the city that was home for so many years. The sword-shaped design of the McKinley National Memorial, dedicated in 1907, was the work of Harold Van Buren Magonigle, the creator of the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City. A gently cascading pool running 575 feet was meant, in combination with the stairs leading up to the mausoleum, to symbolize the blade which had struck down yet another martyred President. The pool was removed in 1951 and yet the domed resting place of McKinley is no less moving a sight to behold today. It stands solemnly on a hill adjacent to the McKinley Presidential Library and Museum.

 

Theodore Roosevelt

  • Born October 27, 1858, in Manhattan. The brownstone home at No. 28 East 20th Street had been occupied by the Roosevelts for four years when Theodore was born. They would continue there until 1872 when commercial properties began crowding out residential spaces, pushing them further uptown. Ultimately, that process would overtake No. 28 and replace it with a retail shop in 1916. The Women’s Roosevelt Memorial Association would acquire the property after TR’s death in 1919. The move to restore and protect the birthplace became preeminently vital and it was one of the first women to become an architect, Theodate Pope Riddle, who replicated the home from its exact counterpart, No. 26 (still extant at the time but ironically demolished to make room for the Birthplace Museum) in 1922 and 1923. Rededicated in 1923, Edith Roosevelt and other members of the large family provided wonderful pieces for its refurbishment. It began the process that brought the birthplace site to its current 1865 condition, the year young TR watched from the windows to witness the sober advance of the Lincoln funeral procession.
  • Theodore Roosevelt died January 6, 1919, at his home, Sagamore Hill, in Oyster Bay (now Cove Neck), New York. The ground purchased by Roosevelt in 1884, with the vision to design a Queen Anne home there for his wife Alice Hathaway Lee Roosevelt to be named “Leeholm,” all changed with her sudden death that year and he sought solace in the Dakotas. Returning refreshed and remarrying Edith Carow in 1886 rekindled that original concept and TR, as with most of his projects, poured into its completion. Appropriating the Algonquin for chief, he designated the place the Roosevelt family would make home, Sagamore Hill. It would be the summer White House each year of his administration, placing the expansive residence in a unique role on the stage of history beyond the notoriety of its owner. It would be, after all, from where TR helped negotiate stages of the peace talks and settlement discussions between Japanese and Russian diplomats worked out at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for which he would be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1906. TR’s body rests at last nearby in the small Youngs Memorial Cemetery at Oyster Bay Cove.

 

William Howard Taft

  • Born September 15, 1857, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Like Hayes before him, Taft’s ties to Vermont are only one generation removed, his father Alphonso coming from Townshend in the Green Mountain State. Like many a pioneering Vermonter, however, he went west. Alfonso would find opportunity in Cincinnati in 1838, and with it the 3-year old Greek Revival house up on Mount Auburn, high off the humid, mosquito-infested, sometimes unhealthy waterfront in town. There, “Bill” came into the world nineteen years later. The property reflected the beauty of the heights but also the mix of rural and urban living as Cincinnati’s development continued to creep up from the river. It would play host to many of Ohio’s foremost personalities of the Gilded Age, including fellow Ohioan James Garfield, underscoring the house shared more than one Presidential connection. It was in their father’s library that the family spent much of their time, no doubt inspiring the children with the love of books and self-improvement through the written word.
  • William H. Taft died March 8, 1930, at his home in Washington, D. C. Reaching his lifelong ambition to become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1921, the only President to also serve in that capacity, found relief after an extended decline in health at his home, 2215 Wyoming Avenue NW, what much later has become the home of the Syrian embassy. A man who never really wanted the Presidency, he was a conscientious Chief Executive and left much more impact on the Office and the modern Presidency than is usually recognized. He deserves much better than the disappointment with which TR enshrouded him. As if being the head of two branches of government was not enough, he adds to them another, the first President to be buried at Arlington. The only other President is John F. Kennedy. James Earle Fraser completed the 14-foot dark mahogany granite headstone with gold leaf inscription in 1932. Taft is due for a new appraisal.

 

Thomas Woodrow Wilson

  • Born December 28, 1856, at the Manse (Presbyterian parsonage) in the Gospel Hill district of Staunton, Virginia. Designed by Reverend Rufus W. Bailey, founder of Augusta Female Seminary, and built by John Fifer of Augusta County (the father of a future Governor of Illinois), the manse is a practical expression of the Greek Revival style, with straight, inflexible lines. The effort to acquire the birthplace as a Presidential site began after his death in 1924 through the trustees of Mary Baldwin College. Approval of the Presbyterian Church for its sale to the college came in 1925 and care for the site continued until the formation of an organization who would take on its preservation and Wilson’s legacy. The Woodrow Wilson Birthplace Foundation began in 1938, restoration of the home began in 1940 and in 1941 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dedicated the home with all the hope Wilson had embodied in life.
  • Woodrow Wilson died February 3, 1924, at his home in Washington, D. C. The first President to make Washington a permanent residence, Wilson chose Embassy Row, the line of diplomatic homes that often partakes of a very colorful history of occupants. Designed and constructed in 1915 by Waddy Butler Wood in the Georgian Revival style, the home was a continuous residence for Mrs. Wilson until her death in 1961, when she bequeathed it to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. As such, it contains quite a collection of materials. In keeping with the traditions of the Washington National Cathedral (in respectful imitation of Westminster Cathedral in London), the Wilsons are interred together (at least President and the second Mrs. Wilson, the first lies at Myrtle Hill Cemetery in Rome, Goergia) there. Wilson’s body was moved from the Bethlehem Chapel to the nave of the Cathedral in 1956, on the centennial of his birth. The couple now rest in what is called the Wilson Bay on the grounds.

 

Warren Gamaliel Harding

  • Born November 2, 1865, in Bloomington Grove, Ohio. The first President to be born after the War that pitted states North and South against each other, Harding began life in an inconspicuous farm house built in 1856. The house was torn down in 1896 and only a stone marker and sign remain beside State Route 97 to guide visitors to the site now. Harding would move to Marion less than an hour away and become a successful newspaper editor, the first member of the Fourth Estate to enter the White House. For all his shortcomings, he does not deserve the infamy heaped upon him. Much was accomplished of significant good in his tenure, on both the domestic and foreign policy fronts. The Budget Bureau overhaul of federal finances, the resolution of unsettled issues left from the Great War, the beginning of a reversal of the segregation of the civil service imposed by Wilson, and the pardon of political prisoners jailed by the Justice Department, were just some of the matters taken up and handled by Harding and the team he assembled. It all began with the platform afforded by the revitalization of the “front porch” campaign method that Harding adopted with incredible success. His home at Marion provided what is perhaps the last great expression of this long-standing tradition. The beautiful home, in which the Hardings lived from 1891 to 1921 (when they left for Washington), was first opened in 1926 to display only a select few rooms and artifacts. In 1965, the home was restored to its 1900 appearance. Through the collaboration of the Harding Home Presidential Site, Ohio History Connection, and Marion Technical College, the home is currently being restored to its 1920 appearance and a newly constructed Presidential Library and Museum set to be opened in September of this year, just in time for the centennial of Harding’s Presidential landslide.
  • Warren G. Harding died on August 2, 1923, in Room 8064 on the eighth floor of the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. On a grueling speech tour of Alaska and the West coast, Harding collapsed and rendered his last breath on that August evening while Florence, his wife, read to him. It became the sixth time a President had died in office, and the fourth time the stirring sight of a Presidential funeral train returned a son to Ohio. Lying in state in the Capitol, the journey brought Harding’s body home to Marion to await internment in the Marion Cemetery Receiving Vault. Both Hardings now rest in the last of the ornate tombs built for our Presidents. Completed in 1927 according to the winning design of Henry Hombostel, Eric Fisher Wood and Edward Mellon (chosen by national competition), the memorial imitates the circular structures of Greek and Roman antiquity. The Hardings were reinterred in the midst of the circle of pillars upon its completion and the site dedicated in 1931 not only by President Hoover but former President Coolidge. The sealed sarcophagi retain the open-air quality they requested, beneath the sun and stars where the two were content to be.

 

John Calvin Coolidge

  • Born July 4, 1872 (the only President born on that most auspicious of days), in the small living quarters attached to Cilley’s Store in Plymouth Notch, Vermont. Named for his father, who owned and operated the store at the time, Calvin Coolidge would return frequently to the small village of his birth to rest and reconnect with the anchor of family memory, work on the farm, and life away from the illusions and delusions of politics. Sister Abbie would join the family almost three years later, in 1875. The next year, the family of four would move to a house just across the road, what would become the site of one of America’s most inspiring scenes in the early morning hours of August 3, 1923, when father Coolidge administered the Presidential oath of office to his son. The Homestead, as it would be called, received a lot of work inside and out over time. Coolidge’s father added the iconic front porch, attached the barn for the horses, built the 2-story front bay, and other improvements. Coolidge’s later additions would be removed to restore the home to its earlier appearance. The cheese factory, operated by the family, remains active and the Church, Wilder House (where Coolidge’s mother grew up), and Store continue to perpetuate the enduring nature of the Notch’s unique, intangible charm. Nestled as it always was between the hills (hence a notch), the surrounding land, preserved open and untouched by the President’s son John, includes the Wilder Barn, the Museum & Education Center (launched in 1972 and expanded in 2010), a blacksmith shop, the garden maintained by Coolidge’s stepmother as well as other remarkable things to explore along the way. Further down the road is the farm of Coolidge’s grandparents and, heading in the opposite direction, the cemetery where rest not only members of the Coolidge family but other pioneering inhabitants of old Vermont.
  • Calvin Coolidge died on January 5, 1933, at The Beeches in Northampton, Massachusetts. Having moved from the beloved half-duplex they had rented for most of their lives on Massasoit Street, the Coolidges in post-Presidency simply could not live as normal, inconspicuous citizens any longer where they had been. They had tried and finding the searing light of press and public attention unremitting, they decided to move. They would not so reorder their existence as to leave Northampton but they would seek a larger property with the isolation of woods and a gate to discourage the sudden appearance of visitors peering in their windows or tourists constantly driving by to stare at them…or worse, get out and want attention. So when a house set well off the street on Hampton Terrace with six acres became available, the Coolidges bought it. Nothing about the home was typical of Northampton, or the Coolidges for that matter, but it had privacy and space for all the possessions they now had to find room for after leaving the White House. The President would laconically declare: “It is easier to get into the White House than out of it.” Moreover, the new house had a view that could be enjoyed without advertising to neighbors or passersby that a former President was there at all. The Beeches gave them what they could never have on Massasoit Street: the return of peace and quiet. Coolidge would meet death preparing to shave that unseasonably springlike day in January. Grace would return from a short walk to town and find him already gone, ready to do what she had first seen him comically engaged in doing almost three decades earlier. Following simple services in Northampton, a small number of close friends accompanied the family to the northward trek back to Plymouth. There, understated as Cal wanted it, remains his headstone, with only the Presidential seal to indicate any important personage rests there. His body is flanked by wife Grace, son Calvin Jr. (who preceded them), and son John with daughter-in-law Florence joining his mother and father and the older members of the family, all together again in eternity.

 

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