OCT 23rd: SAGAMORE HILL and OLD WESTBURY GARDENS

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BULLY FOR US! Yes, we’re going to SAGAMORE HILL and OLD WESTBURY GARDENS on Wednesday, October 23rd.   Thrilled to pieces as this has been on the dance card for a loooooooong time but seemed very difficult to pull together.  This will be an all-day excursion from 8:00am to approx. 5:30 pm (will depend on traffic).  We will have our own bus, will first visit Teddy’s place (the first 16 to sign up will get the house tickets; the rest of us will have to be content with the grounds and the Old Orchard Theodore Roosevelt Museum unless the US Park Service bends a few rules for us) and then we will head down to OLD WESTBURY GARDENS for  a private guided tour – at the peak of the Fall season, no less!  Lunch at the OWG CAFE IN THE WOODS  is included as well.  Wow-o-wow, truly, a perfect day. Tickets are $169. and include roundtrip bus transportation from Manhattan, entrance fee to SAGAMORE HILL, lunch at the CAFE IN THE WOODS and entrance to and private guide for OLD WESTBURY GARDENS. Pls. Note: The tour of Old Westbury Gardens will be of the Gardens only, not the mansion which is undergoing renovation. NOT included is gratuity for our driver; one of us will collect that, in cash, on the ride home.

Hey, there are a lot of us Teddy nuts out there.  Theodore Roosevelt was a hugely popular, charismatic figure who cut a wide swath through an astonishing age.  On one hand he was a character tailor-made for the crazy journalism wars of the day – he spoke in natural sound-bites, had a cartoon-ish look about him and had a big heart and a bigger personality. President at the dawn of the 20th Century – from 1901 to 1909 – he symbolized the intersection of American exceptionalism, optimism and innocence.  He embodied the can-do spirit of the age having overcome childhood illness and the loss of his first wife at a very young age.   But he also had an astonishing intellect and capacity for retention which would be extraordinary in any era. He remains the youngest ever president having taken the office at 42 after the assassination of Pres. McKinley.

Sagamore Hill was the place closest to his heart.  He bought the property when he was only 22 and newly married to his first wife.  Four years later, in 1884, after his wife’s tragic death and the birth of their daughter, he commissioned the house which he would regard for the rest of his life as his true home. He lived in the house – the first one referred to as the “Summer White House” – with his second wife Edith, the five children they had together and his daughter Alice from his first marriage.  He retreated to Sagamore Hill after the failure of his Progressive Bull Moose Party to win the 1912 election and, just two years later, his debilitating trip to the  Amazon.  Most historians feel that TR never recovered from this sad, last chapter of his life.  Roosevelt died at Sagamore Hill in 1919.  The home, grounds and nearby museum are must-sees for all TR-afficianados – and seeing it during peak leaf-season is a special treat.

Just as special are the nearby grounds of OLD WESTBURY GARDENS, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is the site of the former home of John S. Phipps and his wife, Margarita Grace Phipps.  The Phipps embodied the old-American, monied, upper class with substantial fortunes (Hanover Bank, US Steel and WR Grace) on both sides of the family.  In 1906 they completed their home’s gardens, designed by English landscape designer, George A. Crawley, which includes 200 acres of formal gardens, landscaped grounds, woodlands, ponds and lakes.     

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