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The Taft House: Cincinnati, Ohio

The Taft House: Cincinnati, Ohio

By on Nov 7, 2012 in Presidents | 16 comments

Taft House, August 2009

The Taft house in Cincinnati is big and it’s yellow. The Taft family moved to Ohio from Vermont in 1838. President Taft’s father, an attorney, moved his family to this Greek revival style home in 1851.

The following year, Mr. Taft’s first wife Fanny died, leaving him with two small sons.  He then married Massachusetts schoolteacher Louise Torrey, and they had four more children, including our future president, William Howard Taft, born September 15, 1857.

The second Mrs. Taft wrote frequent letters to her family. The correspondence contained details about the home and its furnishings, which helped the historians restore the house to the “Taft era.”

Charlie Taft, animatronic exhibit

We took a Nerd Trip to the Taft house in August 2009. We started in the Visitor’s Center with a film about our 27th president and some displays about his life. One memorable feature was an animatronic Charlie Taft, President Taft’s son. Known as “Mr. Cincinnati” when he was mayor, Charlie Taft was an avid fisherman so robotic Charlie appears in his fishing gear (According to Wikipedia, Charlie Taft’s epitaph reads “Gone Fishing”).

Charlie Taft was also very involved in preserving the Taft house, and robotic Charlie shares stories about his famous family.

Back at the Taft homestead, we had a private house tour, just my mom and me, with a very friendly and enthusiastic ranger. Since my mom had trouble with stairs, we got to ride in a super tiny, somewhat old-fashioned elevator retrofitted into the house. It was kind-of cool!

You can’t take photos in the Taft house, so you will need to go to  Cincinnati to see the house for yourself. The tour focuses on Taft’s childhood and upbringing as well as the home’s features and furnishings.

From whitehouse.gov

The third floor had displays about Taft’s political life, including some very vicious political cartoons. Considering today’s harsh political climate, I somehow take comfort in the ferocity of the attacks on President Taft. It seems that our country continues to forge ahead despite this negativity.

As you may recall, Theodore Roosevelt (once a Taft supporter) ran as a third-party candidate against Taft for his second term. Woodrow Wilson won.

But President Taft did okay. After the White House, he went on to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the only person to hold both these prestigious and powerful positions. A visit to his home in Cincinnati reveals the profound impact of his family and upbringing on the person and president he became.

Right now, I have a profound and acute appreciation of the role our parents play in our lives. I have not posted in several weeks because my mom, my Taft house touring partner, passed away unexpectedly.

My mom was a big supporter of Nerd Trips (even if she didn’t quite understand what a blog was) and she was one of my most frequent

My mom (on the right in sunglasses) in Aswan, Egypt, December 1962

companions for nerdy adventures, most notably we when got trapped at a funeral at President Garfield’s memorial or when we nearly drove her new car over a cliff in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (she screamed from the backseat, but we really weren’t that close).

Mom had an adventurous spirit, leaving home at the age of 19 for a government job that took her all around the world, including Greece, Laos and Bangkok. Going through some of her papers recently, we discovered postcards she sent to her family from all across Europe. She also visited the pyramids in Egypt.

Despite some physical limitations as she got older, my mom was always up for a trip.  She loved to talk to people, always wanting to know where they were from. She was smart and curious and  loved to laugh (even at herself), and we never lacked for conversation. I will miss her addressing historical people by their first names as if she knew them, her unique associations and her somewhat off-the-wall questions, such as asking if Lynda Johnson and Chuck Robb are still married.

A sweet trip after a Nerd Trip – my mom enjoying some frozen yogurt after our visit to the LBJ ranch.

Like mother, like daughter, she was always up for a preemptive trip to the bathroom and a snack, particularly an ice cream cone or cookie. She also liked to go out to dinner with “a good drink,” like a perfect Manhattan.

She enjoyed learning about people and cultures, which I am sure put me on the path toward Nerd Trips. I miss her more than words can say.

In honor of Marge Boston, I encourage you to take a trip, ask a lot of questions and be sure to stop for a sweet snack and a good drink.

Sharon

My mom and me and my brother’s phantom hand on my right shoulder (I cropped him out of the picture).

    16 Comments

  1. Nice tribute.

  2. I’m glad your back, Nerd Trips! Your nice words about your mom made me remember her vividly from 20+ years ago.

    • Thanks Katie. I think future Nerd Trips may not be as fun/funny without my mom – she was a character. We need to plan the FDR excursion!

  3. Wonderful post…can see where mother inspired daughter for Nerd Trips, and you have my condolences as well

  4. Thanks everyone for the positive feedback and support.
    Sharon

  5. Condolences on the loss of your mother – what a lovely post in tribute! My mother also appreciates taking time to go to the historic sites too.

  6. Hi Sharon – I live in Cincinnati…so this was cool to read. Thanks! I lost my Mom almost two years ago and also miss her. Your mom sounded very adventurous! ~Sherry~

    • Thanks Sherry.

      Have you been to the Taft House? I would like to get back to Cincinnati to visit the Harriet Beecher Stowe house.

      Thank you for your kind words for my mom. She was a lot of fun.

      Take care and safe travels.

      Sharon

      • I haven’t been to either yet. I’ve been going to a lot of places here…I call it being a “Tourist in my City”.

        Thanks…you have fun!!

  7. I am so glad you shared this link with me, and I appreciate that you inherited your mother’s love of adventure and discovery. On a personal note, I share the enthusiasm for a perfect Manhattan, and my theory is that while perfection is elusive, it requires a great deal of practice! 🙂

  8. Enjoyed reading your blog about your Mom, my favorite sister! Got the tears flowing though. Thinking your Mom is watching us read this and tipping her glass of a perfect martini!

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