The Inauguration of a Presidential Legacy

Katherine RivardNPF Blog
Exterior of Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site on a sunny day
– josepha (Flickr)

An easy two-hour drive from Toronto, a quick three-hour drive from Cleveland, or a breezy one hour flight from NYC, Buffalo, NY is a perfect and convenient destination. In the summer, the days are hot (enough) and the nights are somewhat cool. Snowfall in the winter can make driving around town tricky – just be sure you bundle up when you’re cruising through town.

This medium-sized city offers visitors the chance to try authentic Buffalo wings (always choose Duff’s), admire some of the best modern art in the world at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and perhaps most exciting of all (and yes, we are very partial), step back in time at Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site.

It’s a reeling story about anarchists, murder, and the start of one of the most influential presidencies in American history — and yes, it all happened in Buffalo.

The fatal shooting of President William McKinley resulted in Vice President Theodore Roosevelt being sworn in. Roosevelt had been camping when he heard the news that the president had been shot. Arriving in Buffalo, the young vice president went to stay with his friend, Ansley Wilcox. It was here that he was sworn in as the 26th president of the United States, becoming the youngest and one of the most influential presidents in our history.

President Roosevelt was the only president in American history to be sworn in without a hand on the Bible or any book. To learn other fascinating factoids from this tragic event and all that ensued, you can visit the park and tour the Ansley Wilcox Mansion.

The interior of the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historical Site
National Park Service

The guided tour walks you through the historic room where the inauguration took place, discusses the dilemmas that Roosevelt faced when he took office, and lays out the legacy that he left behind. The park is also home to interesting artifacts, including the needle used to stitch up President McKinley after the shooting.

Out-of-town visitors and locals alike can appreciate the myriad of activates hosted at the site. Events hosted by the museum, like Coloring Night and TRIvia Night are fun ways to open the site to the public, allowing them to brush shoulders with other community members while in a historic spot. Wonder what Teddy would have thought to see adults completing coloring books right where he was told he’d be taking over one of the most stressful jobs in the world?

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House Complex and a quick trip to Niagara Falls National Heritage Area are Buffalonian-approved activities when visiting Western New York, but the Theodore Roosevelt Inauguration National Historic Site still takes the cake. We love learning about history and there’s no time like the present — so get out there and #FindYourPark/#EncuentraTuParque.


I loved this post and have Never been to the Theodore Roosevelt Historic National Site, but after reading this, I am going before the summer is over! Thank you!

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