The Little White House at Key West - Orlando / Florida Guide
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On our first trip to Key West we saw an advert for Harry S Truman’s Little White House and decided to pay a visit, although not being quite sure what to expect. Were we going to see a scaled down version of the West Wing? No, as it happens!
This White House, for that is what it is, started life in 1890 as the first officer's quarters on the naval station, which had been established in 1845. The house, built in 1890, was originally a waterfront property but was converted into a family dwelling to house the base commandant. Additional land, in front of the house, was filled in and the waterfront view was eventually blocked by a new building.
The house was renamed the "Truman Annex" after President Harry S Truman spent his winters in Key West. In 1946, Harry Truman began visiting the island for rest and relaxation and returned for over 170 days during his eleven year presidency. Whilst spending his time in Key West, bills were enacted, policies discussed and the State of the Union addresses and budgets prepared. . Indeed he loved the place so much so, that in a letter to Bess (his wife) in 1949 he wrote “ ……I've a notion to move the capitol to Key West and just stay. "
During his visits, Cabinet members and foreign officials regularly visited also for fishing trips and card games ie poker. Other visitors to the house over the years include; Thomas Edison, John F Kennedy and Harold MacMillan.
In 1991, it opened as a museum and is now regarded as the most historical site in South Florida. Entry to the White house costs $11 ($5 Child) and includes a guided tour of the public and private rooms of the Truman family. Tour group sizes are limited to ensure that everybody has an opportunity to ask questions, which the very friendly and informative guides are only too happy to answer. The tour gives you the opportunity to experience a fascinating and personal glimpse of the most important man of his era. Guests are able to view the original furniture and decorations intact, as Harry and his family left it, including the famous Truman Poker Table. In addition you can see a short film, “Truman in Key West” and many rare photographs.
For anybody thinking of planning a ‘special occasion’, you may wish to consider hiring the Presidents Dining room for a special dinner party or alternatively the gardens make an ideal backdrop for a wedding party of up to 150 guests.
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