Restore the President's House
Thomas Jefferson was the only President more involved than Rutherford Hayes in the construction and improvement of his own home. President Hayes home was a direct reflection of his personality and character. However, the four generations of Hayes family who lived in the home until 1965 changed much of the décor to suit their living needs. In order to better educate the public about President Hayes and his life and legacy, the Hayes Presidential Center plans to restore seven critical rooms back to the time of President Hayes, circa 1880. The restoration of these rooms is critical to understanding President Hayes contributions to 19th century American history.
President Hayes reupholstered the furniture in the Red Parlor to replicate that in the White House Red Room, where he took the oath of office. The wallpaper and carpeting currently in this room date to the 1930s, and the window treatments to the 20th century. This is the first room visitors see when touring the Home, and the most important to interpretation of the Hayes presidency.
The walls of the Entrance Hall and Carriage Hall are painted white over wallpaper that was too soiled for viewing. When Rutherford and Lucy Hayes occupied the home, beautiful wallpapers and friezes graced these walls. The original elegant carpeting used by the family has been replaced by nondescript commercial carpet. When visitors tour the Hayes Home, they repeatedly travel through these areas since it is the main access to nearly every room in the house.
Restoring the Presidents bathroom/study, known as the Inner Sanctum will provide insights into a man who kept a pruning saw, lantern, books, and photographs of family and friends in his private space. Currently a modern bathroom, re-creation of this room would add a completely new space to the tour. President Hayes was noted for allowing visitors to see his Inner Sanctum and visitors today should have the same privilege.
On the second floor of the house, plans to re-create President Hayes' personal museum or Little Smithsonian will show viewers the inspiration for construction of the Hayes Library and Museum. It was in this no-longer-existing space that the President displayed his collection of walking canes, weapons and gifts he received as president. In 1916 the display cases in the Little Smithsonian Room were installed in the Hayes Museum and their various contents became exhibits. This is one of two new areas that will be added to tours as a result of the restoration.
The Master Bedroom, more than any other room, tells the story of the deep and enduring relationship between President Rutherford B. Hayes and his wife Lucy. Both the President and Lucy passed away in this room that still contains many of their personal belongings. The 20th-century wallpaper in this first-floor room must be replaced. Restoration of the room also is to include re-installation of the picture rail and restoration of flooring, light fixtures and window treatments.
The Drawing Room was the formal entertainment area for the Hayes family. The room was added after the Hayeses returned from the White House. Its ceiling was raised to accommodate the life-size oil painting of the President. The drawing room needs its chandeliers and picture rail restored and its wallpaper, flooring, portieres, and window treatments re-created. Furniture in this room will need to be conserved and a piano acquired and placed in its rightful location. Today, this room contains a mixture of furniture belonging to the five generations that resided in the house.
The Library/Telephone Room was where President Hayes wrote most of his speeches and letters. The library housed the majority of the President's 12,000-plus books. Some of the shelves in the library were removed to create a picture gallery. These shelves will be returned to their original configuration and the wallpaper, light fixtures and flooring restored. The restoration will flow into the adjacent telephone room. The Hayeses were among the first people in Fremont to have a phone. The original phone book on display lists General Hayes.
Cost of the Hayes Home restoration project is projected to be $1 million. The Center has received a $400,000 Save Americas Treasures award from the Department of the Interior/National Parks Service, which must be matched by non-federal dollars. A campaign to raise the funds currently is underway. Restoration work is to begin in January and is be completed by 2009. The Hayes Home will remain open for tours throughout the process, enabling the public to view the work in progress. To enhance the educational value of the restoration, an exclusive Hayes Museum exhibit By Presidential Design has been created. The exhibit, along with public viewing of the actual restoration, will help promote an understanding of historic preservation.
If you would like to help with the effort to Restore the President's House, you can make an online donation by clicking here. Thank you in advance for your generosity!