Sunday, February 3, 2013

Presidential Sites Part 3: James Buchanan's Wheatland

Do you know who our only bachelor president was?

How about who was president when South Carolina seceded from the US?

I’ll give you a hint…

Yup, it was our 15th president James Buchanan and if you’re wondering why on earth I would care to share this with you, well I’ll tell you.  

Last summer when I was in Lancaster PA for a few days off with some wonderful friends we decided to swing by James Buchanan’s home and take a tour.  There is no question I am the “house tour” junkie of the group but I somehow convinced my pals to go along with me on my tour….miracle in itself since my friend’s husband is not so much of a history buff (I think he’s secretly coming around though…).

James Buchanan moved to Wheatland in 1848 so you might expect a 19th century version of a bachelor pad for our bachelor president but you’d be very wrong…there were no beer light signs or pin up girl paintings anywhere in site.  

Wheatland from the front
photo source
The back entrance of Wheatland...the tour starts from here.

Wheatland is a magnificent Federal style house on a country estate. It is presented in such a livable way you can almost imagine him welcoming his cronies in his library.  

James Buchanan wrote the story of his presidency from this desk.  All of the furnishings in this room are original
to Buchanan and the flooring is copied from documented etchings of the time 

One of the terms of Buchanan agreeing to run for president in 1856 was that Wheatland would be his campaign headquarters so he could remain on the estate he loved so much…as a result the home was well documented in newspapers of the time so the interiors today are decorated as they were in James Buchanan’s time.

Pictures of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert hang in the parlor...they were sent to Buchanan by the Queen

Since James Buchanan was never married he designated “first lady” duties to his niece Harriett…you can definitely feel her presence in the furnishing choices at Wheatland…can you imagine a President of the 19th century selecting this fabulous pink china pattern?

Wheatland changed ownership a couple of times after James Buchanan’s death but luckily it underwent no major renovations and in the 1930’s was bequeathed to the Lancaster Junior League for preservation and eventually opened to the public.  

James Buchanan's bedroom

One of the things I liked best about Wheatland was while this is a museum in the sense that today it’s open to the public and honors the life of an American President this home really is true to presenting Buchanan’s home life not his presidency.

1 comment:

  1. How beautiful! I love this style home and touring them also!!!
    Thanks so much for visiting me!


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