When you think of presidents in Gettysburg, it’s very likely that Abraham Lincoln comes to mind. After all, his famous Gettysburg Address, which he gave 150 years ago next week, is one of the most well-known speeches in American history. However, he isn’t the only president to have strong connections to the town of Gettysburg.
Located on a small farm bordering the Gettysburg Battlefield is the former home of President Dwight Eisenhower. Eisenhower, who was the highest ranking US General during World War 2 and the 34th President of the United States, bought his farm in Gettysburg shortly after the war and considered it his home until his death in 1969.
Eisenhower first came to Gettysburg on a West Point class trip in 1915. He was then assigned to the region during World War 1 as the commander of a tank training unit at the nearby Camp Colt. This experience left such a memorable legacy on Eisenhower that he and his wife Mamie settled on Gettysburg for their retirement home in 1950.
The Eisenhower’s home is a relatively modest two-story building that sits in the middle of a 600-acre farm. While Eisenhower was president, the home was visited by many foreign dignitaries, including Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, French President Charles de Gaulle, and Eisenhower’s Vice President, Richard Nixon.
Located a short helicopter flight from the White House and Camp David, the Eisenhower Homestead was a great place to relax and hold informal meetings.
In their will, the Eisenhowers left their house to the National Park Service, and it’s now possible to take tours of the Eisenhower Homestead.
Since there is no parking at the Eisenhower Homestead, buses leave from the Gettysburg Battlefield Visitor Center on a regular basis for tours of the house.
Once you arrive on the grounds, visitors are given a brief introduction to the house and farm before being escorted into the homestead.
After gathering in the house, visitors are given more information on the home inside the Eisenhower’s formal parlor, before you begin a self-guided tour of the rest of the house and property.
One thing that’s great about the house is that 98% of the items inside were actually owned by the Eisenhowers when they lived at the home. This gives you the ability to really imagine what it must have been like to live in the house.
In my opinion, if you are a fan of American history, the Eisenhower Homestead is a fascinating look into one of the highest regarded Americans of the 20th century.
If you aren’t a history buff, however, I would imagine a visit to the house would be rather dull as there is little to distinguish the Eisenhower Homestead from any other mid-century dwelling.
Visiting the Eisenhower Homestead
The Eisenhower Homestead can only be visited by bus from the Gettysburg Battlefield Visitor Center.
To visit, purchase your tickets at the ticket counter, and they will tell you when the next bus will leave. During the summer, buses leave every 30 minutes or so, but otherwise, departures are limited to 4-5 times per day.
Visiting in the summer will give you more flexibility with bus schedules, but the extra visitors will make seeing the cramped house even more challenging. Plan on spending at least 90 minutes in the summer and two or more hours the rest of the year, depending on the bus schedule.
Note: My visit to the Eisenhower Homestead was sponsored by the Gettysburg Visitors Bureau. The opinions expressed in this article are my own and were not subject to review.
The Eisenhower Homestead
Hours: The Eisenhower National Historic Site is open daily: 9am-5pm
The Eisenhower Home & Reception Center is currently closed.
Cost: Adults: $9, Children: $5
*The Homestead is currently closed.
Address: 1195 Baltimore St