Behind an otherwise innocuous (if immaculately maintained) facade in Manhattan, the childhood home of US president Theodore Roosevelt remains untouched save for the new displays including the bullet-riddled items from an unsuccessful assassination attempt.
Originally built in 1848, Roosevelt’s large townhouse was used by the family for 18 years and saw the birth of the sickly boy who would grow to become president. Despite Teddy Roosevelt, one of the most enduring figures in American history even at the time, the building where he was born was demolished to make way for retail space in 1916. After his death in 1919, this grave mistake was rectified by women’s group who set to work rebuilding and recreating Roosevelt’s childhood home in its entirety. Using a neighboring building as an architectural template and furniture and design advice from Roosevelt’s widow, the group was able to restore the site to the same comfortable state it was in in 1865.
The birthplace still operates today as a living museum to the president’s roots and career. Among the artifacts from Roosevelt’s adventurous life that are on display in the museum is the shirt he was wearing when he was shot by an unsuccessful assassin. The once blood-stained shirt, which was washed before it was installed in the museum, is now a lily white blouse that still shows the hole where the bullet penetrated the president’s chest. Luckily the projectile was slowed by a steel glasses case and a thick, folded speech which was folded in Roosevelt’s jacket pocket. Being one of the manliest men ever to walk the Earth, Roosevelt shrugged off the flesh wound and went on to deliver the speech, despite the huge bullet hole straight through it. The life-saving piece of rhetoric is also on display.
Despite bullets and wrecking crews, Teddy Roosevelt’s legacy lives on thanks to the very place where it started.