Sagamore Hill, the Oyster Bay home of Theodore Roosevelt, is slated to reopen July 12 following a four-year, $10-million renovation of the 26th president’s home that served as his “Summer White House.”
The extensive restoration of the historic landmark included replacing the roof, repairing the mansion’s foundation and rewiring the electric system, officials said. In addition, all of TR’s 12,000 belongings were individually removed, repaired and cleaned before being put back where they once were.
“We’re really happy about [the reopening],” said Philip Blocklyn, executive director of the Oyster Bay Historical Society. “Its being closed for over three years was kind of a temporary loss for Oyster Bay, not just in American history, but on the local stage.”
Special events planned for the reopening Sunday include speeches from Roosevelt family members, children’s activities, a cavalry demonstration and performances from the Sagamore Hill Band. Visitors will also be able to use an interactive photo booth and view historic carriages and antique cars at the famous mansion.
Kathleen Bart, the author or A Tale of Two Teddies, will be signing copies of her book and says she is proud to be a part of the day.
“This event will be a terrific tribute to all things teddy!” Bart said. “Most of my research was done [at] Sagamore Hill, home of the teddy bear’s namesake, Teddy Roosevelt.”
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Sagamore Hill was the setting for countless historical events such as visits from foreign dignitaries, talks that would eventually help end the Russian-Japanese War and the death of TR himself. The mansion is the only home that Roosevelt actually owned, and he often spoke of how he enjoyed Sagamore Hill more than the White House. He and his wife are buried about a mile away from the estate.
Among those most excited to see the renovations is James Foote, a Theodore Roosevelt re-enactor who will make a speech in character following a ribbon-cutting ceremony. He said that the renovations were meant to look like nothing had changed at all.
“They installed better lighting in the house, so you’ll be able to see everything a little better,” Foote said.
In addition to the physical improvements made to the home, visitors can expect some alterations to the park’s rules and policies. Visitors older than 16 will now have to pay a $10 entrance fee, while children 15 and younger will have free entrance to the park.
“After carefully considering the impact of a fee increase on visitors and community members, we came to the conclusion that this is the right course of action to improve facilities and services important to visitors” said Kelly Fuhrmann, superintendent of the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site. “Even with this small fee increase, a tour of the Theodore Roosevelt House is still one of the best recreational values on Long Island.”
Visitors can use Sagamore Hill’s new online reservation system to purchase up to eight tickets in advance. Most individual tour tickets, as well as unreserved online tickets, will still be available to walk-up visitors, according to the National Park Service. More information about the reopening of Sagamore Hill can be found here.