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An Unusual Inaugural Site►
Calvin Coolidge became the 30th president of the United States when President Harding died suddenly from a heart attack. Coolidge had been visiting his family in Plymouth Notch, Vermont, when news of Harding’s death reached him. President Calvin Coolidge took the oath of office in his boyhood home.
His father, a notary public, administered the oath in the sitting room of the homestead. When asked how he knew he could swear in his son to the presidency, Colonel John Cooolidge replied that no one had said he couldn’t. Today the lamp, family bible and table are set up as they were on that fateful day in August 1923.
Calvin Coolidge spent most of his adult life in Northampton, Massachusetts. He returned to Vermont frequently to spend time with his family. As president, he conducted the summer White House’s business in the town’s dance hall.
He was born in a small house attached to his father’s store. The Colonel moved the family across the street to the larger homestead when Calvin was four. He furnished the parlor with fancy horsehair furniture, which is still on display today.
Calvin Coolidge had a relatively simple upbringing, doing chores and playing at his grandparents’ farm across the field from the homestead. He developed a reputation as honest, thrifty and quiet. He was a popular Governor of Massachusetts and made national headlines through his firm handling of the Boston Police Strike of 1919. Because of the public acclaim, he was chosen as Harding’s running mate at the Republican Convention.
Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site►
Harding had been a popular president and was deeply mourned by the country. But then scandals started to surface and ruined Harding’s image. President Calvin Coolidge’s quiet morality helped win back the public’s trust and the sudden death of his son earned him sympathy. He ran for election in his own right in 1924 and won. He chose to retire in 1928 just before the stock market crash and the Great Depression and then died in 1933.
Coolidge’s eldest son inherited the homestead and donated it to the state of Vermont along with all of its furnishings. The State opened it as a historic site in 1957. I was able to take an abbreviated tour (due to covid-19 restrictions) with a docent. She told us about the president’s modest upbringing and his unique inauguration before encouraging us to explore the rooms on our own.
Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site Posts►
- Plymouth Notch Historic District
Location: 3780 VT-100A, Plymouth, VT 05056
Designation: State Historic Site, National Historic Landmark
Date Designated/Established: 1957
Date of my visit: 7/30/2020