Learn More About Theodore Roosevelt’s Home

The famous Sagamore Hill, now the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, was home to the late Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States. He and his family lived in the house from 1885 until his eventual death in 1919. This is also Theodore Roosevelt’s famous Summer White House.

The house is located at the Incorporated Village of Cove Neck in New York and now also houses the Theodore Roosevelt Museum.

If you are wondering what is inside Sagamore Hill, the answer is a lot. For starters, there are 23 rooms inside Sagamore Hill. That should give you the idea of how wide Sagamore Hill is.

History

The property of 155 acres (63 ha) was purchased in 1880 by then 22-year-old Roosevelt, amounting to $30,000, or $794,793 today. Four years later, the New York architectural firm of Lamb & Rich was commissioned to design a shingle-style Queen Anne home for the property.

With its completion in 1886, Roosevelt moved into the house a year after, in 1887. Roosevelt initially picked the name the house “Leeholm” in honor of his wife, Alice Hathaway Lee Roosevelt, who died in 1884. Theodore remarried two years later. Eventually, the place was called “Sagamore Hill” and was retained till today. The term “sagamore” is the Algonquin word for a chieftain or the head of the tribe.

The largest room, the “North Room”, was added in 1905, which became the space for trophies, which are both Roosevelt’s hunts and foreign dignitaries’ gifts to him. Art pieces and books from the Roosevelts’ collection also reside in the North Room.

Three of Roosevelt and his wife’s five children were born in Sagamore Hill. The place eventually became known as the “Summer White House”, picking up the name in the summers of 1902 to 1908.

Roosevelt passed away at Sagamore Hill on January 6, 1919. In 1962, Congress established the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site to preserve the house, with most of the pieces retained.

Roosevelt's birthplace at 28 East 20th Street in Manhattan, New York City

The Tragedies of Sagamore Hill

In 1878, two years before Roosevelt bought the property, his philanthropist father died. The news affected him and also left a considerable amount to inherit. In 1880, he married his first wife, Alice Lee, a Boston socialite, bought the property, and started planning. In February of 1884, his wife gave birth to their daughter, Alice. It was also by then that his wife was rushed to the hospital for an undiagnosed kidney failure. He later learned that his mother was also sick of typhoid fever while his wife was at the hospital.

His mother died first, and Alice eventually succumbed to the sickness just hours later.

He would eventually despise Valentine’s Day and would seldom speak of Alice and that tragedy. He turned his suffering into labor, managing a cattle ranch in North Dakota, where he found a lifelong love for nature and paved the way for Roosevelt’s later support for conservation efforts and the National Park Service.

The Sagamore Hill is a vast and huge property with wide spaces allotted for nature, perhaps an early manifestation of the eventual green architectural methods.

Here are some of the most important rooms inside Sagamore Hill:

Front Hall – the main entryway into the house where visitors were received, often by Theodore Roosevelt himself. A Cape Buffalo head, one of Roosevelt’s many hunting trophies from North America, Africa, and Brazil, hangs above the fireplace of the Front Hall.

Library – often served as Roosevelt’s study and a place for family gathering. This eventually became the center of the “Summer White House” when Roosevelt became president in 1901.

engraved portrait of Roosevelt as President

Drawing Room – served as Edith Roosevelt’s private office and also utilized to welcome some of Theodore’s guests. Edit also used the play to have time to read, knit, write letters, or have tea with her friends.

The North Room became the room for family activities, such as information evenings for playing cards, listening to music, Christmas celebrations, and house parties. The space has a large alcove housing hundreds of books. This was no surprise since Theodore owned more than ten thousand books while at Sagamore Hill.

As a home, the property has an astounding number of rooms. A total of 23 rooms are inside Sagamore Hill. Here are the rest of the rooms in the famous Sagamore Hill house.

  • Dining Room – an open area for both family and formal dinners
  • The Kitchen – Edith is a hands-on housewife, and every morning, she would review the daily menu with the cook and kitchen staff. The kitchen area is filled with those rustic furniture pieces made for the house, very much different from today’s ready-to-assemble (RTA) pieces, which also have their own benefitsin today’s living.
  • Mother’s Room – actually a shared room of Theodore and Edith but their children fondly called it the Mother’s Room
  • Father’s Dressing Room
  • South Bedroom
  • Nursery
  • Gate Room/Playroom
  • Alice’s Room
  • Boy’s Room – a room shared by the four Roosevelt boys
  • Single Guest Bedroom
  • Double Guest Bedroom
  • Cook’s Room
  • Maid’s Room
  • Ted Jr’s Room
  • Gun Room – used to store hunting equipment