A historic site that contains a few genuine artifacts is an achievement, but for the hardcore history buff, the Warren G. Harding Home in Marion, Ohio is the ultimate jackpot: a home with 98% original artifacts.
Warren G. Harding became the 29th president of the United States after running a campaign hinged on “a return to normalcy.” Much of that campaign was conducted from Harding’s own front porch, where crowds, eventually numbering in the hundreds of thousands, would flock to hear him speak.
When the Hardings moved to Washington in 1920, they stored all their belongings in a friend’s barn. After the President died of a heart attack two years into his term (not surprising since he reportedly ate over 20 waffles a day), his belongings remained in that barn until the Home Museum acquired the entire collection in 1926.
Even though Harding would be remembered as one of the least favorable presidents after news of corruption leaked following his death, the sheer volume of Harding artifacts in the house makes it worth a visit. Most museums are lucky if they can display a presidential suit, but the Warren G. Harding Home has his entire wardrobe, including his undergarments neatly folded in the top drawer of the president’s bureau. The house contains not only Harding’s enormous cigar humidor, but also his personal tobacco stash, still pleasantly musky almost 100 years later. Perhaps the most bizarre item in the collection was the handheld urinal Harding used on his sickbed, which still contained trace amounts of presidential urine.
The house is so authentically preserved new artifacts are still being discovered. One of the museum employees was cataloging items in the attic when he came across a note with a small vial attached. When he noticed the note was signed by Marie Curie, he called in some scientists from a local university. The vial contained a sample of radium that is now housed in a special facility with other radioactive materials. Harding apparently couldn’t resist acting irresponsibly, even from the grave.