Best Ways To Learn About Presidential And American History In The Baltimore Area

February 18, 2013 6:00 AM

White House

George Washington slept here and there and many places in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania, both while serving as General of the Continental Army and later as the first president of the United States. All of the presidents have left their marks on the mid-Atlantic countryside, from Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s founding of Shangri-La, now known as Camp David, located near Thurmont, Md. Within a two-hour drive of Maryland, there are many presidential designations and attractions to visit.

White House

White House

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500
(202) 456-1111

President George Washington chose the site for the White House in 1791. A competition of architects chose Irish-born architect James Hoban’s design for the building and its cornerstone planted in 1792. In 1800, before the construction was totally completed, President John Adams and wife, Abigail, were the first First Family to reside in the White House. In 1814, toward the end of the War of 1812, British forces set fire to the White House. Hoban was again assigned to oversee the construction and in 1817, President James Monroe moved into the building. Public tours of the White House can be arranged through a member of Congress. The self-guided tours are scheduled on a first come, first served basis. Tour request must be submitted a minimum of 21 days in advance. In addition to the White House tour, Kitchen Garden Tours are also available.

Eisenhower National Historic Site
1195 Baltimore Pike
Gettysburg, Pa. 17325
(717) 338-9114

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, his wife, Mamie and their family lived in Gettysburg, Pa., at two different locations and two different times during their lives. In 1915, as a West Point Academy cadet, Eisenhower visited the battlefield as part of a class, to study the Battle of Gettysburg. During World World War I, Captain Eisenhower was placed in command of Camp Colt, tank corps base, on March 24, 1918. During his stint as commander, the couple lived on South Washington Street, Gettysburg, across from the campus of Gettysburg College. In 1950, President Eisenhower bought a 189-acre farm just south of Gettysburg as a retirement home. Today, the Eisenhower National Historic Site includes 690 acres and four farms – three of which were used for President Eisenhower’s prize herd of black Angus cattle.

David Wills House
8 Lincoln Square
Gettysburg, Pa. 17325
(717) 334-2499

On the eve of Nov. 18, 1863, prior to delivering the Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the Soldier’s National Cemetery on Nov. 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln spent the night at the home of Gettysburg attorney David Wills. Recently, the National Park Service acquired the historic building and dedicated it to commemorate Lincoln’s historic visit to Gettysburg about four months after the historic battle. The museum includes five galleries and two recreated rooms – Wills’ law office and the Lincoln Bedroom. The largest house in Gettysburg at the time of Lincoln’s visit, it hosted 38 dinner guests that evening, including Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin, statesmen and orator Edward Everett, who was the keynote speaker for the dedication ceremonies and the French foreign minister to Washington, D.C. Lincoln, who started writing the Gettysburg Address before leaving Washington, is said to have finished it while staying at the Wills House. While in Gettysburg, also plan to visit the Hall of Presidents, the battlefield, Eisenhower’s Farm and other historic locations. Gettysburg has hosted most of the U.S. presidents at one time or another.

camp david
Camp David Museum
The Cozy Restaurant
103 Frederick Road
Thurmont, Md. 21788
(310) 271-7373

Located in the Catoctin Mountain Park , near Thurmont, Md., Camp David, the presidential retreat, is nestled in the hills and forests that form both national and state parks. Officially known as the Naval Support Facility Thurmont, it is staffed by U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps personnel. The famous Marine Corps presidential guard are stationed at the facility. Built in 1935, as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal Work Progress Administration, it was converted into a presidential retreat in 1942. First named Shangri-La, Camp David has since been the site of historic peace summits and has served presidents and their families as nearby getaway from the hustle and bustle of Washington, D.C. The Camp David Museum, operated by Cozy Village, is the only museum dedicated to curating pictures and memorabilia starting with President Herbert Hoover and continuing today with items related to President Barack Obama. The items have been donated by members of the press, presidential staff and foreign dignitaries.

James Buchanan Pub & Restaurant
15 N Main St.
Mercersburg, Pa. 17236
(717) 328-0011

President James Buchanan moved to western Franklin County, in south central Pennsylvania, while a young child. In 1796, James Buchanan Sr., bought property in the small town of Mercersburg and built a two-story brick home that also served as a business. Inhabited by Scottish immigrants, Mercersburg, at the time, boasted a few dozen houses. By the time the future president turned 10, his father’s business was thriving. After Buchanan left Mercersburg to attend Dickinson College, the home was converted into Hotel Mercer. Throughout the years, there have been several additions to the property. Now, the hotel features eight guest rooms with private baths and other amenities. Favorite menu items include the roasted tomato soup made from locally grown tomatoes and the Norwegian salmon with capers and onions. The facility often hosts weddings and other large social functions. While visiting Mercersburg, enjoy the rural landscape. Ski Whitetail is located nearby.

Jeffrey B. Roth has won numerous state and national news and feature-writing awards during his career. A well-known crime writer, investigative reporter and a feature writer, Roth writes for a number of magazines and newspapers. Listed in the Locus Index of SciFi and Fantasy authors, Roth is the author of a number of published short stories and poetry. His work can be found on

Watch & Listen LIVE