Thursday, April 19, 2012

Eisenhower Farm In Gettysburg Pennsylvania

Our visit to President Eisenhower's farm in Gettysburg Pa. had many highlights. I was allowed to take photos inside of the home, which is normally not the case while visiting historical buildings. Of course, no flash was allowed, leaving me with poor quality photos. I'm not complaining. The National Military Park service does a great job making the tour feel personal and informative.

Ike and Mamie purchased this 169 acre farm for only $44,000.00. The property included a home at the time of purchase. Mrs. Eisenhower oversaw every detail of the renovation and additions made to the existing house. This was the first home the Eisenhower's ever owned. Can you imagine? People of such influence and stature were well past middle aged before they had a place to call their own. Our society today seems to feel entitled to the home owner dream. The purchase price of the farm during that time was said to have been a little high according to the locals. Ike and Mamie didn't seem to mind. The property was located near the Gettysburg Civil War battlefields. President Eisenhower was a long time historian and knew exactly where his heart could call home.

One aspect of Mamie and her life struck me on a personal level. Upon entering the home (Entry Hall) Mrs. Eisenhower proudly displayed a curio cabinet filled with her collection of knick knacks. Now, I am not a knick knack person, rather her reasons for hanging on to the items were of special meaning to me. She moved many many times with her husband as he pursued his military career. Ike had achieved a  5 star General ranking during the years of their marriage. The park ranger told me that Mrs. Eisenhower would set- up and display every single piece, exactly the same, from house to house. She believed this gave her family a sense of home. The thoughtfulness she possessed, and love for family made me stop and take notice of this first lady.

Mamie however was not a cook. She was known for her stylish fashion sense. I did enjoy learning of her philosphy, " Once a woman reaches the age of 50 she should be allowed to sleep until noon." I'm completely onboard with that way of thinking, although it's not very practical in my day to day life. As we all know I am not trendy and have a rather rustic fashion sense. On those notes, I'm certain Mrs. Eisenhower enjoyed a far less labor intensive lifestyle than I do.

Every time we visit a presidential home my thoughts travel to the lady of the house. Clearly, Mrs. Eisenhower was very good at delegating responsibilities to her staff. The linen closet was well organized with handwritten labels on each shelf marking where items were to be placed. Staff had rooms of their own within the main farm house. Thoughtfulness to the decor was given to every room, even the staff rooms.

This is the quarter for the personal assistant to the President.

Housekeeper/ Cook quarters

This same attention to detail is evident in the Lodge Room. President Eisenhower was a very diverse man. His paintings are proudly displayed in the home. His golfing hobby was encouraged. I would have liked to have learned more about his passion for soil conservation. The land on the farm he had purchased had been over farmed and improving the soil was of special interest to the President. Our mission while on our visit was to make it fun and interesting for our 10 year old who traveled with us. She isn't at the age to completely appreciate the decorating tastes and hobbies of others. Earning the  Junior Secret Service badge was the main focus during this visit.
Ike's Lodge Room

Can you believe that the entire secret service operation was conducted from this small concrete block building adjacent to the barn? We were able to view the inner workings of this facility. Questions on the Junior Secret Service questionnaire dealt with items located inside this tiny space. I am certain that my daughter learned a few things about a former president and the workings of protecting this man.

Here is the farm kitchen. Mamie had kitchen staff, of course. From what I have read the Eisenhower's usually enjoyed a Pennsylvania Dutch type breakfast and ate very simple meals. There are only two items that Mamie claims to have been good at in the kitchen, making fudge and mayonnaise. Her fudge recipe is on my list of items to make this year. 

Who wouldn't love an extensive sun room/ back porch like this? Ike preferred this room to the more stuffy living room in the front of the house. 
back of the house and exterior view of the sun room

Cozy sun room at the Eisenhower Farm
The Living room has so many interesting historical pieces. I encourage you to take the trip to the farm and learn about the many rich pieces of artifacts that are housed here. Among them is a a mantle above the fireplace which was gifted to the Eisenhower's. This mantel was the original mantel from the White House.
Formal Living Room 
Portrait of Mrs. Eisenhower in her inaugural gown. Displayed in the Living room.

During his time in office President Eisenhower suffered a heart attack. He spent his recovery time on the farm in this humble bedroom and bathroom. The President of the United States conducted official business from these two rooms.
Mamie loved the color pink. Her quarters certainly would encourage sleeping until noon. She seemed to surround herself with the things she loved.
The first ladies quarters.
I hope my photos and words have given you a fun glimpse into the world of President and Mrs. Eisenhower and their beloved farm. I will leave you with random photos of the grounds and interior of the home. Please feel strongly encouraged to visit this fabulous place the next time you are traveling to or through Pennsylvania, especially if you have a small child who could earn their Junior Secret Service badge too!

President Eisenhower had a simple book shelf in his office.

The vision of a working farm.

simple beauty

The greenhouse where flowers were grown to fill the vases in the home. Small building  to the right was a playhouse for the grandchildren.

Beautiful Entry Hall

President and Mrs. had most of their meals in the sun room. This formal dining room was used for entertaining .
Contact the National Military Park Service for details on boarding a shuttle to the Eisenhower Farm. We paid $20.00 for two adults and one child to tour the grounds and home. The Junior badge program is free.


  1. Janice, Just returned from visiting the Eisenhower Farm and was looking for info to help me remember all that I saw. Was delighted to find your blog. It was so dark in there! Your pictures are great considering. Also loved your narrative. Thank you so much for enhancing my memory of my visit.

    1. Lynn,
      Thanks for your comments. I'm glad you found my narrative of interest. Some places merit a second visit and the Eisenhower Farm is certainly on my list of places to return to one day. I have a feeling I could notice something new with every visit.