Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site – Buffalo, New York - Atlas Obscura

Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site

This restored house is like a time capsule of the president's unconventional inauguration. 


Entering this Victorian-era abode is like stepping back in time. Much of the building has been restored to reflect how it appeared on the day Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as the 26th president of the United States.

In September of 1901, President William McKinley went to Buffalo, New York, to visit the great Pan-American Exposition. But what should have been a jovial affair soon turned into a deadly disaster. An anarchist attacked the president, shooting him twice in the abdomen. McKinley died of gangrene eight days later.

Roosevelt, then McKinley’s vice president, hurried to Buffalo but did not arrive until after the president’s death. On September 14, 1901, he took the oath of office in his friend Ansley Wilcox’s home, in one of only four instances of the oath being delivered outside of the capital. About 50 people crammed into the house’s library to watch the events unfold.

Today, the unusual inauguration site serves as a time capsule of that monumental day. It’s packed with items associated with the inauguration as well as objects from the Pan-American Exposition, such as playing cards and even the key to the Temple of Music where President McKinley was shot. The only thing missing? Photos of the inauguration—Roosevelt ordered photographers out of the room after a guest bumped a camera from its tripod.

A guided tour delves into the history of the day’s circumstances and Roosevelt’s political legacy, and you’ll even get to stand in the very room where he became president.

Know Before You Go

The site is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays (with extended hours on Tuesdays until 8 p.m.) and from noon to 5 p.m. on weekends. Visiting the museum is possible via a guided tour. An adult ticket costs $12. Keep an eye out for the site's special exhibits.

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