Martin Van Buren Home - Lindenwald
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
and handicapped accessible tours of the mansion are
available from mid April through November.