October 27, 2013

Houses of the Presidents


Published in the autumn of 2012, Houses of the Presidents received admiring notices in the  The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Hugh made the rounds on public radio, while  a slide show of Roger’s pictures went up at the Washington Post, another on the The Daily Beast. USA Today included the book in its listing “Big, beautiful books for the holidays” and Parade Magazine chose it as one of its six “Season’s Readings” for 2012.

A number of historians offered their opinions. Among them were the following:

“You can tell a lot about a man from his home–his self-image, his struggles and his dreams, his roots and his destiny. Anyone curious about America’s presidents will want to linger while Hugh Howard takes us on a tour of their houses. This is a beautiful and revealing book, at once intimate and grand.”

Evan Thomas, historian, journalist, and author of Ike’s Bluff: President Eisenhower’s Secret Struggle to Save the World.


“Houses of the Presidents is a marvelous contribution to American history. Meticulously preserved childhood and family homes—from the humble to the most majestic—are included in this brilliantly illustrated book. No home should be without it!” 

Douglas Brinkley, author of works on presidents Carter, Reagan, Ford, and Theodore Roosevlet, and, most recently, of the biography Cronkite.


Houses of the Presidents examines presidential domiciles from the founding of the nation to the present (all forty-three United States presidents are represented in its pages). Enriched with images recorded by photographer Roger Straus III, the book looks at widely varied homes, among them birthplaces, including John F. Kennedy’s, in Brookline, Massachusetts; Richard M. Nixon’s, in Yorba Linda, California; and Bill Clinton’s in Hope, Arkansas.

Readers of Houses of the President  visit family homes, including Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s Springwood in Hyde Park, New York, and Jimmy and Rosalind Carter’s home in Plains, Georgia. Some houses are dramatic architectural statements (think Washington’s Mt. Vernon and Jefferson’s Monticello, both in Virginia, and Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage in Tennessee). Other sites served as part-time presidential homes, such as Ronald Reagan’s California ranch, Rancho Del Cielo; Lyndon Johnson’s “Texas White House”: and Teddy Roosevelt’s “Summer White House” in Oyster Bay, New York. Other locales offered retired presidents places of respite, among them Ulysses Grant’s cottage in Wilton, New York, and the Woodrow Wilson house in Washington, D.C.

Houses of the Presidents was  selected for use by the History Book Club, Military Book Club, Children’s Book-of-the-Month Club, Quality Paperback Book Club, and the Book-of-the-Club and a substantial excerpt of images and text appeared in Newsweek.


More opinions? A number of historians who were offered early looks at the book offered endorsements; their words suggest something of the book’s character.

“Houses of the Presidents is a visual and intellectual treat for anyone interested in presidential biography. The presidential residences pictured here speak volumes about the lives and times of these men. This is a piece of Americana that should grace everyone’s personal library.”   

Robert Dallek, author of An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963


“Presidential houses tell us much about those who lived in them. Some like Jefferson’s Monticello tell how these men shaped their places. Others like Washington’s Mount Vernon and FDR’s Springwood at Hyde Park tell how they were shaped by them. And still others like Madison’s Montpelier and Lincoln’s Cottage tell how the ideas they propagated there shaped the nation. These stories and more are all here in this wonderfully written and beautifully photographed book by Hugh Howard and Roger Straus III. It is certain to remain the definitive work on this fascinating subject for many years to come.”  

Richard Moe, president emeritus, National Trust for Historic Preservation.


 “The White House is the scene of the presidency, but it is only a temporary home for any president. It is through their other houses that we truly see these men as individuals. Houses of the Presidents takes a more thorough approach to the topic than any book before it. The stories are engrossing and often surprising, each mirroring the lives lived within.”   

William Seale, author of The President’s House