Presidential historic sites across Pennsylvania


Hello, my name is Kyle Weaver. I’m the editor of “Pennsylvania Heritage” magazine. i’m coming to you live from The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg to introduce VisitPA.com #PAHappyChats on presidential attractions in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania had only one native-born president, James Buchanan, the 15th chief executive who served from 1857 to 1861. He was born on the Pennsylvania frontier in a log cabin in near the town of Cove Gap in 1791. The location is marked by a stone pyramid which you can visit today in Buchanan Birthplace State Park and the log cabins still exists, it’s on the grounds of Mercersburg Academy nearby. You can also tour Buchanan longtime home in Lancaster, Wheatland, which he purchased in 1848 and live there on and off until his death in 1868. But there were several other presidents who lived and worked in Pennsylvania before, during or after their presidencies. I’m standing here in the “Pennsylvania Icons” gallery of The State Museum, an exhibit that includes artifacts that represent the people, places and things in Pennsylvania history and behind me are flags that represent two presidents who spent some time in Pennsylvania. This is the Pennsylvania state flag that was on the platform on which Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. Lincoln of course came to Gettysburg in November 1863, four-and-a-half months after the Battle of Gettysburg to say some appropriate words at the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery, which would become the final resting spot for 3,500 Union soldiers who died in the battle. You can visit the David Wills House on the square in Gettysburg where Lincoln spent the night and the following morning put the finishing touches on the address minutes before the dedication ceremony. You can also visit the site of the dedication in the cemetery each year there on November 19. The dedication day event is held with a rededication of the cemetery and a Lincoln portrayer delivering the gettysburg address and a famous person delivery the keynote address. Twice, a president delivered that address Harry S. Truman in one year and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Another flag in this exhibit is significant to George Washington and his time in Pennsylvania. Before his presidency when he was the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army in the American Revolution he famously crossed the Delaware River with his army to fight Hessians on the other side, nine miles away in Trenton. This is the flag of the First Pennsylvania Regiment which crossed the Delaware with Washington and fought with him in several important conflicts of the Revolution, including two in Pennsylvania, Brandywine and Germantown. You can of course visit Washington Crossing historic site in Bucks County where you can experience the site of Washington’s crossing and if you’re so inclined, on December 25th each year you can take a break from your holiday festivities and see a reenactment of the crossing on the site complete with a Washington portrayer. As for Washington’s presidency, Philadelphia of course was the US Capitol from 1792 to 1800 and there are…Washington spent most of his two terms in Philadelphia. There are several sites significant to his presidency. Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia. One in particular, Congress Hall was sight of his second inauguration in 1793 and John Adams also, the second president, had his inauguration there in 1797 making Congress Hall the first sight of peaceful transfer of presidential power in US history. One other president I’d like to mention is Dwight D. Eisenhower. After his military service in World War II he purchased a home in Gettysburg in 1950. The home and farm that was adjacent to the Gettysburg Battlefield. That became his weekend getaway when he was president during his administration from 1953 to 1961. He retired there and lived there with his wife Mamie until his death in 1969. Mamie lived there until her death in 1979 and today it is the Eisenhower National Historic Park which you can visit. Also want to mention, before i go, in 1965 Eisenhower also visited this museum and he was here for the new building’s first art exhibit, an N.C. Wyeth retrospective and he would have seen a painting that is in this exhibit in the “Pennsylvania Icons” exhibit that is called “The Deerslayer” so you want to come here and see the “PA Icons” exhibit and visit several of the other presidential spots in Pennsylvania. Now I’d like to direct you to VisitPA.com’s Facebook page where for the next hour I will be answering your questions on Pennsylvania historic sites for the presidents. See you there.

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