©Library of Congress
The Martin Van Buren National
Historic Site still reflects the
former president's life there
during his retirement years.
Van Buren was a man accustomed to stylish surroundings, and he bought the Georgian-style mansion in 1839, intending to renovate it. He turned the grounds into a gentleman's farm, complete with 220 acres of cropland, formal flower gardens, and ornamental fishponds.
The former President filled the house with fine furniture, Brussels carpets, and portraits of his friends Thomas Jefferson, Henry Clay, and Andrew Jackson. The downstairs hall was decorated with elaborate wallpaper panels, imported from France, that formed a mural of a hunt. The house changed hands many times, and most of the Van Buren family's belongings were sold, but the wallpaper mural remains, as does some of the furniture.
Van Buren's son, Smith, helped him turn the house into a replica of a grand Italian villa, adding a four-story brick tower, a Victorian-Gothic central gable, and Renaissance-style bay windows to the otherwise simple, square dwelling.
Van Buren enjoyed the pleasures of rural life at Kinderhook until his death in 1862. In the 1850 census, the eighth President of the United States listed his occupation as "farmer."
Martin Van Buren National Historic Site Information
Address: 1013 Old Post Rd., (NY Route 9H), Kinderhook, NY
Hours of Operation:
- Daily mid-May - October, 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
- Tours on the hour from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
- $5 per adult age 16 and over
- $12 per family (up to 4 adults and accompanying children ages 15 and under)
Learn more about these other national historic sites:
- National Monuments: Learn more about America's national monuments.
- National Memorials: Discover national memorials in the U.S.
- National Historic Sites: Read about American national historic sites.
- New York City Guide: Find out where to stay, what to do, and where to eat when you visit New York City.
- New York State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in New York as well as other recreational activities.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Eric Peterson is a Denver-based freelance writer who has contributed to numerous guidebooks about the Western United States.