Washington Slept Here
From sea to shining sea, our nation's 43 presidents have put their indelible mark on an awful lot of houses—some of which are for sale.
During an inspection of the Union Canal, the "Golden Link" used to transport anthracite coal and lumber from Lebanon County to Philadelphia, George Washington stayed in this large stone Colonial, which was then called the Swan Hotel. The property now operates as the George Washington Tavern and is decorated to honor the nation's first president and his wife, Martha. In addition to five furnished apartments, the property includes a liquor license—a bonus that Washington, who operated one of the nation's largest whiskey distilleries of his time, would surely have appreciated.
You can be the barkeep for only $695,000.
In 1793, the largest yellow fever epidemic in American history struck what was then the nation's capital—Philadelphia. The viral outbreak killed nearly 10% of the city's population and threatened the lives of the nation's foremost statesmen. President George Washington moved the government to Germantown, then Philadelphia's northern countryside. His Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, resided in this Federal-style home. In 1777, the home's second-floor parlor had served as a meeting place for Washington and two other generals shortly after the Battle of Germantown.
You can own it for only $249,900.
Built in 1923 and nestled in the Ozarks, the Honeymoon Hotel has a history colored by names of the famous and infamous. Harry S. Truman spent several nights at the 7-bedroom hotel with his friend "Boss Tom" Pendergast, head of Kansas City's notorious Pendergast Machine, which was instrumental in getting "Give 'Em Hell Harry" elected to various positions early in his political career. The property was also a mob hangout during the Prohibition era when gangster Al Capone was a notable guest. A former owner even found a loaded gun buried in the wall of the kitchen. The property overlooks Lake Taneycomo, known for year-round trout fishing and tourism.
Sleep every night where Harry slept for just $1,500,000.
Less than 10 miles from the White House, the 1000-acre horse farm, Ash Hill—known as Hitching Post Hill—was like a second home for President Ulysses S. Grant. He loved it so much that he was once arrested for speeding (by horse, mind you) to get there after a long day's work. He paid the fine, maintaining that even the President must obey the law. Grant's two Arabian horses, gifts from the Sultan of Turkey, enjoyed Hitching Post Hill as their home. Grover Cleveland, too, frequented this retreat, and, legend has it, Abraham Lincoln visited. The 1840 Italianate has 11 fireplaces, a wraparound porch, and a towering holly tree estimated to be 250 years old. Current owner John Giannetti, who restored the house's ornamental plasterwork, has his own ties to the White House—he restored crown molding in the Lincoln Bedroom and the water-damaged hallway of the East Wing.
Comes with a price tag of $799,900.
A favorite fishing destination for two sportsmen presidents, Dwight Eisenhower and Jimmy Carter, Harpster Manor includes a 28-room mansion built in 1834. Exercising their political muscle, the presidents gained access to the 40-acre estate's elite fishing spots in the limestone stream, which meanders toward a 5-acre pond and is renowned for producing trophy-sized trout. Situated near Penn State University in central Pennsylvania, the home features black marble fireplaces, open stairways, spacious bedrooms, and a picturesque outdoor pavilion.
All this for a mere $4,995,000.
Built in 1799 and completely restored in 1991, Rosewood has original wood flooring, eight fireplaces, and a guesthouse. President George Washington is said to have used the property for meetings when he was in the area. The former basement tavern, rumored to have once been a jail, served hot lunches to the courthouse crowd in the late nineteenth century. As legend has it, thick chains entwined deep within the 200-year-old Japanese maple in the yard—one of the oldest in the state—were once used to confine criminals awaiting justice at the courthouse across the street. The owner says Mark Twain, too, stayed at the inn while he was documenting the arrival of the Virginia Railway for the Rockefeller family.
It can be yours for $249,000.
President Calvin Coolidge, Norman Rockwell and P.T. Barnum are among the elite guests that once enjoyed stays at this 1875 Second Empire with its characteristic mansard roof. Furniture tycoon Sylvester Pierce built the 3-story house in the town of Gardner, still celebrated as the furniture capital of New England, about 60 miles from Boston. A period of neglect and vacancy followed a high-stakes card game that cost Pierce's son the house in 1965, but, still fitted with its original woodwork and fixtures, the 5-bedroom house has been significantly restored over the past six years.
Grab it for $499,900.
The elegant Egmont Hotel, built in 1878, once stood on this site on Amelia Island, a popular vacation spot for wealthy Northerners during the Industrial Age. When President Ulysses S. Grant arrived at the Egmont in 1880, the hotel staff spelled out the president's name in the windows with 400 camellias. The luxurious hotel was torn down around the turn of the century, but materials salvaged from it were used to build four homes on the property. Among them was this airy Victorian. Who knows? Perhaps Grant himself paced this sister home's salvaged heart pine floors or soaked in one of the two claw-foot tubs.
Get it for $695,000.
Owned by the first mayor of New York City, William Merritt, this home in Palisades, NY, known as "The Big House", is said to be one of the oldest continuously occupied homes in the nation. In this historic 4-bedroom home, George Washington himself dined with the Marquis de Lafayette, the French general and statesman who helped the American colonies win independence. Some say the house was built circa 1695, but dendrochronology (tree-ring dating) suggests that it may have been built closer to 1738.
Whatever its age, it's available for $5,500,000.
Ellis Sotheby's International Realty
Though Aaron Burr was never president, he was first in line for the job at the beginning of the 19th century. Following one of the most famous duels in American history—the one that killed Alexander Hamilton in the summer of 1804—Thomas Jefferson's vice president hid out in this Dutch Colonial in a quiet village in Rockland County, NY, overlooking the scenic Sparkill Creek. Dueling had been outlawed by that time, and Burr was charged with several crimes, including murder, but he escaped prosecution. The Freedom House, as it is known, was built in 1749 by freed slaves. More recently, it was home to John Crawford, one of Jim Henson's Muppet makers.
You can duel over the asking price of $775,000.
The 1836 decrepit castle on this grand estate was the realized dream of a lively heiress named Harriet Douglas, who has been called the "Lion Huntress of the Social Jungles." The notorious redhead's impressive romantic history links her to President James Monroe, the Marquis de Lafayette, Sir Walter Scott, and William Wordsworth. The sweeping property was also, at various times, home to members of both the Monroe and Roosevelt families, some of whom are buried in the estate's cemetery. In 1983, acclaimed Russian cellist Mistislav Rostropovich built a contemporary home on the property. Don't fall too deeply in love, though—the 325-acre estate recently went into contract for an amount that the realtor says "includes two commas."