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Eisenhower’s Temporary White House

If you are visiting in Pennsylvania, you should make a stop at Eisenhower Farm in Gettysburg. President and Mrs. Eisenhower gave the house, the farm and the grounds to the United States government in 1967, and after their deaths, the National Park Service opened the site for visitors. President and Mrs. Eisenhower bought this farm in 1950 after his retirement from the military, and intended for it to be their first permanent home in their peripatetic marriage.

Front of Eisenhower House [photo by Rebecca Raupach]

However, a few short years later, Dwight Eisenhower began the campaign for the first of his two terms as president. The farm was President and Mrs. Eisenhower’s getaway during his presidency. They also used it for some of his second-term campaign events and to host some foreign dignitaries in a less formal, more relaxed setting. President Eisenhower met with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev at the farm in 1959 as a break from a meeting at Camp David; he also hosted Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Prime Minister Winston Churchill of the United Kingdom, Chancellor Konrad Adenauer of the Federal Republic of Germany, and President Charles De Gaulle of France at various times. Marshal Montgomery stayed in their guest house for a time as well.

Eisenhower House, back [photo by Rebecca Raupach]

In 1955, Eisenhower had a heart attack and returned to the Gettysburg farm to recuperate, using the farm as his “temporary White House.” He signed numerous pieces of legislation at this desk in his office, making this piece of furniture a historical and legal artifact. It is made of timber salvaged from the White House during renovations made during the Truman administration, and is supposedly modelled on a desk President Washington used at his home in Mount Vernon. According to our tour guide at the farm, the president was sitting at this desk when he received the call in May 1961 about CIA Pilot Francis Gary Powers being shot down in a U-2 reconnaissance airplane over Russia. The office is the last stop on the house tour; it is a small room, but it is worth getting a picture of it to remember.

President Eisenhower’s desk, Eisenhower Farm, Gettysburg, PA [photo by Rebecca Raupach]

Source: National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. (no date) Eisenhower National Historic Site, Pennsylvania. [Leaflet obtained in at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitors’ Center], 19 April 2019.

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