July 15th, 2009 by admin
Herbert Hoover was born on August 10, 1874 in a small two bedroom cottage built three years earlier by his father and grandfather, Jesse and Eli Hoover. The cottage, known now as the Herbert Hoover Birthplace or the Hoover Historic Site, is located in the center of West Branch, Iowa and also includes a blacksmith shop–similar to the one Herbert’s father owned–as well as the first schoolhouse in West Branch, and the Friends Meetinghouse. The Meetinghouse was building in 1857 by the Quakers, and is the site where the Hoovers held religious services.
Though Herbert lived in the cottage only until 1879, it left quite an impression on the 31st President; Hoover felt that the home was “physical proof of the unbounded opportunity of American life”. During the 1930s, he and First Lady Lou Henry Hoover purchased the cottage and had it restored. The Herbert Hoover Birthplace is now furnished with antiques to represent life as it would have been for the Herbert’s in the 1870s.
Next to the the Hoover Historic Site is the 32,000-square-foot Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, which opened on Herbert’s 88th birthday. The library is home to the papers of Hoover, as well as more than 150 collections on topics ranging from agricultural economics to governmental reorganization, as well as many manuscripts including those of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Behind the library and overlooking the birthplace cottage is the grave site of President and Mrs. Hoover, marked by two simple pieces of marble.
From 1879-1884 the Hoover’s lived in a second house on the same site. The house is no longer standing, and is marked now only by a sign. Maple trees surround the area, thus giving it the name “The House of Maples“. After both of Hoover’s parents died, he was sent to live with relatives and did not return to West Branch until many years later.
The Herbert Hoover Birthplace commemorates the life of Hoover, and was made a National Historic Landmark on June 23, 1965; it was was declared a National Historic Site on August 12, 1965. The site is run by the National Park Service and is open to the public year round.