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Martin Van Buren Home - Lindenwald

Martin Van Buren was born in Kinderhook in 1782 shortly after the colonies successfully ended their fight for independence. As President of the United States, the first to be born under the US flag, Martin Van Buren continued the the era of Jacksonian Democracy. Not until his defeat for the presidency in 1848 did Van Buren give up public life. Subsequentaly Lindenwald became his retirement home.

"Ex-President Van Buren returned to the place of his nativity on Saturday last . . . (After the lapse of a long series of years, spent in the service of his country, he has returned to the home of his youth, probably to spend the evening of his days among those who have long appreciated the splendor of his genius and admired his virtues." --Kinderhook Sentinel, May 1841.

Built in 1797 as the Van Ness mansion, and purchased by Van Buren in 1839, the home was extensively modified by architect Richards Upjohn in 1849. Upjohn changed the house from a large Georgian style brick structure to a fashionable early Victorian mansion modeled after the grand villas of northern Italy. Van Buren renamed it Lindenwald ( Linden Woods ) after the trees that were on the property.

At Lindenwald, Van Buren spent his retirement years, pampered by his daughters-in-law, honored by his neighbors and by famous visitors. On July 24, 1862, Van Buren died of bronchial asthma at Lindenwald. He would have been pleased to know that 81 carriages, including that of the Governor of New York, followed his hearse to the nearby cemetery of the Dutch Reformed Church.

After Van Buren's death the house changed owners many times until 1970 when it became part of the National Park Service as the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site, and today is a National Historic Landmark. As is typical of many historic structures maintained by the National Park Service, Lindenwald is a mixture of careful conservation, studied restoration and woeful neglect. When last we visited Lindenwald, the roof was covered by blue plastic, tacked on with sticks, for lack of funding necessary to repair it. The landscape lies fallow and untended except for a tractor that mows the lawns. Immediately behind the house are 20th century garages and structures that jar the senses when viewed as the backdrop of this magnficent house.

Yet inside, the interiors are carefully and patiently restored to their state at the time of Van Burens residency. The wallpaper mural in the central hall has been completely striped, restored and replaced, bringing a richness and depth to the room. The parlors and other ground floor rooms have been restored and filled with period antiques, family heirlooms, paintings and appointments that accurately and lavishly recreate and restore the house to its importance. As an example of early Victorian architecture and interiors, Lindenwald has few rivals. As the residence of Martin Van Buren, it has even fewer rivals for importance in American History.

Guided and handicapped accessible tours of the mansion are available from mid April through November.

Specifics on visiting the Martin Van Buren Home (Lindenwald) were correct at time of publication. We would suggest that you confirm dates and times prior to your visit.
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