Behind an otherwise innocuous (if immaculately maintained) facade in Manhattan, the childhood home of U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt appears much as it did when Teddy was a boy and includes an exhibit that highlights 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 up to become president. Despite being the birthplace of one of the most enduring figures in American history, even at the time, the home was demolished to make way for retail space in 1916. After his death in 1919, this grave mistake was rectified by a 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 as well as 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 that highlights and honors the president’s roots and career. Among the artifacts on display from Roosevelt’s adventurous life is the shirt he was wearing when shot by a would-be assassin in 1912. 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 eyeglass case and a thick, folded speech inside 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 the pages. 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.