Martin Van Buren National Historic Site


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The Martin Van Buren National Historic Site is in Kinderhook, NY.  Van Buren was the 8th president of the United States, the first American-born president, and a founder of the Democratic Party.


He moved here to the home called Lindenwald in the mid 1800s after serving out his presidential term and losing his bid for re-election. It was a tumultuous time in our history, as our nation teetered on the brink of civil war. Van Buren had no intention of retiring in Lindenwald. He enlarged the home and ran two more presidential campaigns using the mansion as his campaign headquarters, before ultimately conceding defeat and becoming a ‘gentleman farmer’ on the 220 acre estate. The home was again expanded to 36 rooms, complete with modern conveniences such as running water when Van Buren’s son moved into Lindenwald with his family.


My husband and I stopped at the visitors center several years ago on our way up to Lake Placid. The only way to see the inside of the home is on a ranger-guided tour, so we took the tour. We didn’t know much about Martin Van Buren or his presidency and so we enjoyed the ranger’s informative talk as we walked through the mansion.


The Ogee arch originated in the Arab world and later became popular in medieval England


The home has many interesting architectural details, like the Ogee Arch in the formal parlor and the Palladian window in the second floor bedroom and the stair tower that connects the old and new portions of the home. The home was designed to impress as Van Buren frequently entertained his political guests here.

Location: Kinderhook, NY

Designation: National Historic Site

Date designation declared: 10/26/1974

Date of my visit: 7/25/2011

In the mid 1800s, having a tub with running water and a flush toilet was quite unique
The winding staircase connecting old and new sections of the house
The guest bedroom on the second floor. Servants quarters were on the 3rd floor.

Saratoga National Historical Park


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06SNP04TThis park preserves the site of the Battles of Saratoga. The American victory here in 1777 is considered the turning point of the American Revolution. It was the first time in world history that a British Army had ever surrendered and it convinced the French, and then the Dutch and Spanish to ally themselves with the Americans.

Benedict Arnold injured his leg in the Battle of Saratoga. This monument was erected to honor him, but it does not name him because he later betrayed the Americans.

We stopped at Saratoga on our way home from Lake Placid. We started at the visitor center where we watched a short film and a cool fiber optic diorama type presentation on the history of the battlefield. We got our map to take the self-guided Battlefield Drive.

We stopped several times along the drive at highlighted points of interest. In some locations there were rangers giving talks and in others there were volunteers dressed in costumes of the era performing demonstrations.

Our tour culminated, 8 miles North of the battlefield, at the Saratoga monument. We climbed the 188 steps of this obelisk, built to commemorate the American victory.



Location: 648 NY-32, Stillwater, NY 12170

Designation: National Historical Park

Date designation declared: 6/01/1938

Date of my visit: 7/30/2011


Saratoga Monument
Entrance to the monument
The obligatory NPS entrance sign shot

SOL National Monument: Ellis Island

The Great Hall/Registry Room in the Museum of Immigration


Welcome back to National Parks with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

Ellis Island is a part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, but is its own island with its own history and worthy of separate exploration. Twelve million immigrants entered the United States through Ellis Island for over 60 years starting in 1892.

IMG_4842When you buy a ticket on the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, it includes a stop at Ellis Island. Most folks just stay on the boat, itching to get to the main attraction. Lady Liberty is inspirational, the symbol of our collective hopes and dreams. But there is something pretty awesome about walking the halls where our ancestors first set foot on American soil.

IMG_4830I have been here several times before. The first time, a friend sneaked me aboard a park ranger boat so I could see the main building, still under renovation at the time, before it was open to the public.

Thirty years later, I was back with a photography group and signed up for the hard hat tour of the south side of the island. After a quick run through the Museum of Immigration, I met up with the group at the back of the park where a guide took us through the Ellis Island Immigrant Hospital. These buildings housed the quarantined arrivals. They are in bad repair…poison ivy and decay have reclaimed much of the structures. A private organization is raising funds to preserve as much as they can.

On many of the surfaces French artist JR has installed (in conjunction with the Save Ellis Island group) black and white murals of immigrants derived from photos of the period. They are life-size and lend an eerie, haunted feeling to the place.

Location: Jersey City & New York City

Designation: National Monument

Date NPS designation declared: 5/11/1965

Date of my visit: 5/15/2016