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Eisenhower’s Temporary White House

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The Eisenhower House. Photo: Rebecca Raupach

However, a few years later, Eisenhower began the campaign for the first of his two terms as president. The farm was the Eisenhowers’ 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. 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.

The Eisenhowers launch his 1956 presidential campaign at their Gettysburg farmhouse. Photo: Thomas J. O’Halloran. Prints and Photographs Division.

In 1955, Eisenhower had a heart attack and returned to the Gettysburg farm to recuperate, using the place as his “temporary White House.” He signed numerous pieces of legislation at this desk in his office, making it 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 1960 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.

Eisenhower’s desk. Photo: Rebecca Raupach

Comments (3)

  1. I enjoyed this blog. It brings back many fond memories for me of visiting Mamie at the Gettysburg farm with my father, Secret Service Agent Rufus W. Youngblood.

  2. May 1961? Eisenhower was out of office by then. The U-2 incident was May 1960. Can you fix this?

    • Thanks for the heads up, and it’s been updated!

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