There are three types of historic homes. The first is a historic home without historic furnishings, or without furnishings original to the house. The second is a historic home filled with the furnishings that were there when the original or notable owner lived there. The third is perhaps the most rare, historic furnishings that relate to the original family, but a recreated house.
The third is what I found today at the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace near Union Square in Manhattan.
The strange thing about the house is no plans or photographs were available to recreate the house in 1916, but a brothers house built at the same time did remain. What was built was basically a mirror image of the brothers house with simulated moldings, mantles, etc. The why of it all is that they then demolished the brothers house. It’s hard to second guess what someone did nearly a century ago, however, but keeping the house that really existed and that Roosevelt would have known would seem the smarter (and less costly) move.
The recreation may be the only example of a “19th Century” brownstone built in the 20th Century, however, and if it does prove anything, it’s that you can build them like they used to.
The Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace is operated by the National Park Service. It usually costs $3 to get in, but in celebration of Teddy’s 150th birthday, October 26th and 27th will be free and include many activities. For more information call 212-260-1616. Oh, and one of the interesting tidbits you may learn on a tour is that Teddy went out west with a monogramed sterling silver knife from Tiffany’s.