Eisenhower National Historic Site | HOUSE TOUR

Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower's house at Eisenhower National Historic Site

Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower’s house at Eisenhower National Historic Site

Touring Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower’s house is the main attraction at Eisenhower National Historic Site. In fact, if house tours are not being given, there is no reason to visit, so it is important to know the schedule. The only way to get inside the house is on a Ranger-guided tour, which are typically given from April through October on select days of the week. The schedule changes depending on the season, but tours are given at least on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Thursdays and Mondays are usually added from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Multiple tours are held each day, though the number varies per season. Before heading to the park, but sure to get the current schedule on the National Park Service’s Ranger Programs web page.

For groups of less than ten people, there are no fees involved in touring the Eisenhower House and no reservations are accepted. To join a tour, get in the line that forms in front of the house. Up to forty people are allowed per tour. I visited in late September and had no problem getting on the next available tour, but I suspect things get a lot busier during the summer. If that is when you are visiting, my suggestion is to arrive at the park as early as possible. You can never go wrong by arriving early when a first-come-first-served tour is concerned. If you visit on a day when the crowd is sparse and the next tour isn’t for a half hour or more, feel free to walk the park grounds and then get in line at the last minute. If the park is crowded, you’ll have no option but to get in line immediately and wait it out.

If you have a group of ten or more people, you must contact the park at least two weeks in advance to make a reservation to tour the Eisenhower House. Large RVs, buses, and vehicles pulling a trailer are not allowed on the property without prior authorization due to narrow roads and tight turns. If this is how your group is traveling, you may need to take a shuttle bus from the Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor Center. There is a charge for the shuttle. Use the email contact link on the National Park Service’s Ranger Programs web page to make group arrangements for the tour and to inquire about large vehicle access. If it is determined that your vehicle cannot enter the park, call (717) 334-2436 to make a reservation for the shuttle bus.

Regardless of group size, if you are in an excluded vehicle—large RV, bus, trailer—you must contact the park ahead of time to see if arrangements can be made to accommodate your vehicle. If not, you will also need to take the shuttle bus to Eisenhower National Historic Site.

Rear of the Eisenhower House at Eisenhower National Historic Site

Rear of the Eisenhower House at Eisenhower National Historic Site

Rear of the Eisenhower House at Eisenhower National Historic Site

Rear of the Eisenhower House at Eisenhower National Historic Site

HOUSE HISTORY

The Eisenhower House in Gettysburg is the only house ever owned by both Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower. They purchased the 189-acre farm in 1950 when Dwight was still a general in the army, but at the time was serving as President of Columbia University. In December that year, he took an extended leave from his university duties to serve as Supreme Commander of NATO. He officially retired from the military in June 1952 and resigned as President of Columbia University on January 19, 1953, the day he became President of the United States.

Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower's house at Eisenhower National Historic Site

Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower’s house at Eisenhower National Historic Site

Eisenhower was connected to Gettysburg long before 1950. When the United States entered into World War I in April 1917, Camp Colt was established on the grounds of Gettysburg National Military Park later that year. Starting in the spring of 1918, Camp Colt was the home of the U. S Army’s Tank Corp and a tank training program. Captain Dwight Eisenhower, 27 years old at the time, was assigned as the commanding officer. He had previously served with the 301st Tank Battalion at Camp Meade in Maryland. He remained in Gettysburg for the duration of the war.

While living in Washington, D. C., as President and First Lady of the United States, the Eisenhowers decided to renovate the existing house that came with the farm and use it as a weekend retreat. However, once work began, the house was found to have significant structural issues. The two-story house was built in the 1830s, but it had been built around a log cabin from the 1750s. The log structure was concealed between the outer brick veneer and the inner walls, and it was now in poor condition. Because of this, nearly all of the original house had to be torn down to remove the rotting wood.

The majority of the house standing today was built in 1954-55. The only portions remaining from the original house are the outer walls of the section between the chimney and the one-story stone house on the right side of the building. Because the old and new bricks did not match (the older ones are rougher), the house was painted white.

Original section of the house the Eisenhowers purchased with the farm, Eisenhower National Historic Site

Original section of the house the Eisenhowers purchased with the farm, Eisenhower National Historic Site

The stone section of the house, while a completely different style from the brick house, is not a later addition. It was built at the same time and served as a guest house.

Stone section of the Eisenhower House at Eisenhower National Historical Site

Stone section of the Eisenhower House at Eisenhower National Historical Site

While he was president, Eisenhower used his Gettysburg farm as his own private Camp David, inviting numerous dignitaries from around the world for a visit. Winston Churchill was there in May 1959; Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in September 1959; and India prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru in December 1956. Nehru stayed overnight, the only world leader to actually stay in the house.

The Eisenhowers donated the house and farm to the National Park Service in 1967 with the caveat that they be allowed to live out their lives on the farm before it could be turned into a park. Dwight died in 1969 of heart failure and was buried at his home town of Abilene, Kansas. Mamie died in 1979. The next year the property was opened to the public.

HOUSE TOUR

A tour of the Eisenhower House begins outside the front door. A park Ranger gives a short introduction to the Eisenhowers and the farm’s history, and then the group is invited inside, with the first stop being the living room. This is the only room where the Ranger gives a talk. After that, you are free to explore the rest of the house on your own. There is a brochure available just inside the entrance that has information about each room. The Ranger can also answer any questions you might have.

I was in and out of the house in about 20 minutes, and I take a lot of photos. I can’t imagine a tour of the house’s interior taking anyone much longer than that. With the lecture outside, the entire Eisenhower House Tour took me roughly 45 minutes. Tours are given every hour, and this seems to give people ample time to see the house and exit before the next tour starts.

Photography is allowed inside the house but without flash. The rooms are very dark, so short of having a high-end camera, don’t expect fine art (even my photos aren’t the greatest). The rooms do have security alarms, so do not lean over the barriers and set them off.

The following are photos and information about the rooms in the Eisenhower House.

LIVING ROOM

Living room of the Eisenhower House, Eisenhower National Historic Site

Living room of the Eisenhower House, Eisenhower National Historic Site

The living room of the Eisenhower House was mainly used for entertaining guests. In addition to the furniture, the room is full of gifts that were given to Dwight and Mamie by dignitaries from around the world. They were the last presidential couple that was allowed to keep the gifts. Since then, any such gifts are considered to belong to the American public and are displayed at the White House or other museums.

Living room of the Eisenhower House, Eisenhower National Historic Site

Living room of the Eisenhower House, Eisenhower National Historic Site

Figurines and gifts collected by the Eisenhowers, Eisenhower National Historic Site

Figurines and gifts collected by the Eisenhowers, Eisenhower National Historic Site

On the piano is a gold-framed photo given to the Eisenhowers in 1957 by Queen Elizabeth. The photo is of her, Prince Philip, and their children Anne and Charles (who is now king of England). Eisenhower was the first U. S. president that Elizabeth met when she became queen in 1952. The photo is signed by her and Philip. Above the piano is a painting of Mamie.

Photos in the living room of the Eisenhower House, Eisenhower National Historic Site

Photos in the living room of the Eisenhower House, Eisenhower National Historic Site

The fireplace was in the White House up until 1873 when it was removed by President Ulysses S. Grant. It was given to the Eisenhowers by the White House staff. The painting above the mantel is of Prague, Czechoslovakia. It was a gift from the citizens of the city at the end of World War II. (FYI, the Soviet Red Army actually liberated Prague, not the United States, so perhaps Joseph Stalin has a Prague painting as well.)

Living room of the Eisenhower House, Eisenhower National Historic Site

Living room of the Eisenhower House, Eisenhower National Historic Site

PORCH

The porch was the Eisenhowers’ favorite room. The couple watched TV here, sat with friends, played cards, and ate most of their meals when alone. Dwight also liked to paint, and he used the porch as his studio. The painting on the easel at the far end of the porch is a reproduction of the last painting he was working on when he died.

Porch of the Eisenhower House at Eisenhower National Historic Site

Porch of the Eisenhower House at Eisenhower National Historic Site

ENTRANCE HALL

Entrance hall of the Eisenhower House at Eisenhower National Historic Site

Entrance hall of the Eisenhower House at Eisenhower National Historic Site

The Eisenhowers’ guest book is on display in the entrance hall of the house, as well as a cabinet full of items Mamie collected.

Eisenhowers' guest book, Eisenhower National Historic Site

Eisenhowers’ guest book, Eisenhower National Historic Site

Cabinet full of items collected by Mamie Eisenhower, Eisenhower National Historic Site

Cabinet full of items collected by Mamie Eisenhower, Eisenhower National Historic Site

DINING ROOM

The dining room was only used when family and friends came to visit. Mamie purchased the dining table and chairs in 1927.

Eisenhower House dining room, Eisenhower National Historic Site

Eisenhower House dining room, Eisenhower National Historic Site

MRS. DOUD’S ROOM

Elivera Doud was Mamie’s mom. She stayed in this room until her death in 1960. The room was then used as a guest room.

Room of Elivera Doud, Mamie Eisenhower's mother, Eisenhower National Historic Site

Room of Elivera Doud, Mamie Eisenhower’s mother, Eisenhower National Historic Site

SITTING ROOM

The Sitting Room was used as a TV and entertainment room by the Eisenhower grandchildren. After Dwight died, Mamie also used it to watch TV.

Sitting Room inside the Eisenhower House at Eisenhower National Historic Site

Sitting Room inside the Eisenhower House at Eisenhower National Historic Site

GENERAL’S ROOM

Dwight used this room as his dressing room and often took naps here after he had a heart attack in 1955. He painted the portrait of his two grandchildren that hangs over the bed.

Dressing room of Dwight Eisenhower, Eisenhower National Historic Site

Dressing room of Dwight Eisenhower, Eisenhower National Historic Site

MASTER BEDROOM

Master Bedroom of the Eisenhower House at Eisenhower National Historic Site

Master Bedroom of the Eisenhower House at Eisenhower National Historic Site

MAID’S ROOM

This was the room of Mamie’s personal maid, Rose Wood. It is located within the section of the original house that was saved from demolition.

Room of Rose Wood, Mamie Eisenhower's personal maid, Eisenhower National Historic Site

Room of Rose Wood, Mamie Eisenhower’s personal maid, Eisenhower National Historic Site

GUEST ROOMS

There were two guest rooms, both located in the stone section of the Eisenhower House. The room painted Yellow is known as the Yellow Room. The second guest room is the Red Room. This is where India Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru stayed. There is a shared bathroom between the two. All of the paintings in the hallway outside the rooms were done by Dwight.

Yellow Guest Room inside the Eisenhower House at Eisenhower National Historic Site

Yellow Guest Room inside the Eisenhower House at Eisenhower National Historic Site

Red Guest Room inside the Eisenhower House at Eisenhower National Historic Site

Red Guest Room inside the Eisenhower House at Eisenhower National Historic Site

Painting by Dwight Eisenhower, Eisenhower National Historic Site

Painting by Dwight Eisenhower, Eisenhower National Historic Site

LAUNDRY ROOM

Laundry Room inside the Eisenhower House at Eisenhower National Historic Site

Laundry Room inside the Eisenhower House at Eisenhower National Historic Site

MOANEYS’ ROOM

Sergeant John Moaney and his wife, Delores, worked as the cook and valet for the Eisenhowers. This is their room. John served on Eisenhower’s personal staff during World War II. Both Moaneys continued working for Mamie after Dwight died.

Room of John and Delores Moaney, the Eisenhowers' cook and valet, Eisenhower National Historic Site

Room of John and Delores Moaney, the Eisenhowers’ cook and valet, Eisenhower National Historic Site

KITCHEN

While most of the meals were cooked by Delores Moaney, Dwight also liked to cook and did so here in the kitchen.

Eisenhower House kitchen, Eisenhower National Historic Site

Eisenhower House kitchen, Eisenhower National Historic Site

Eisenhower House kitchen, Eisenhower National Historic Site

Eisenhower House kitchen, Eisenhower National Historic Site

DEN

Dwight often used the den to relax and play cards with friends. Some of the building materials in this room were salvaged from the original house.

Eisenhower House den, Eisenhower National Historic Site

Eisenhower House den, Eisenhower National Historic Site

OFFICE

Along with the den, Dwight conducted business from this room, both when he was president and when he was retired. He was in this room when he received a phone call about U2 pilot Francis Gary Powers being shot down by the Soviet Union.

Dwight Eisenhower's home office, Eisenhower National Historic Site

Dwight Eisenhower’s home office, Eisenhower National Historic Site

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Last updated on January 4, 2024
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