Martin Van Buren National Historic Site

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Martin Van Buren National Historic Site
Martin Van Buren National Historic Site is a unit of the United States National Park Service located 20 miles (32 km) south of Albany, New York, or two miles south of the Village of Kinderhook, New York in Columbia County. The National Historic Site preserves the estate and thirty-six room mansion of Martin Van Buren, the eighth President of the United States. Van Buren purchased the estate, which he named Lindenwald, in 1839 during his one term as President and it became his home and farm during his retirement.

Van Buren, a founder of the Democratic Party, purchased the home and approximately 125 acres (51 ha) of land in 1839 for $14,000 (equal to $287,788 today) while he was still President. However, Van Buren did not move in to the home until 1841 (after he was defeated for his second term by the Whig candidate William Henry Harrison in 1840). Eventually, his four living sons, Abraham, John, Martin Jr., and Smith, had rooms in the mansion. The home was previously owned by the Van Ness family and was where Washington Irving wrote most of his book A History of New York . Irving and Van Buren later became friends. Van Buren ran two United States Presidential campaigns from Lindenwald. In 1844, he based his ultimately unsuccessful run for the Democratic nomination at the estate. That year, Van Buren lost a hotly contested fight to nominee and eventual President James Knox Polk. In 1848, in opposition to the extension of slavery into territories captured from Mexico as a result of the Mexican-American War, Van Buren ran for President on a third-party ticket (The Free Soil Party), again directing his campaign from Lindenwald. Van Buren's campaign drew enough votes away from the Democratic nominee, Lewis Cass, to allow Whig candidate Zachary Taylor to prevail. Van Buren named the estate Lindenwald, which is German for "linden wood", after the American Linden (American Basswood or Tilia americana) trees lining the Albany-to-New York Post Road, which is still located in front of the home. The section of the road on the property remains unimproved to this day. Some replanted Linden trees also remain by the side of the road. Van Buren would pass away at Lindenwald on July 24, 1862. He was 79.

Lindenwald was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1961. The Martin Van Buren National Historic Site was established on October 26, 1974, and today, Lindenwald is under the care of the National Park Service.

The site can be found on Route 9H, about 2 miles (3.2 km) south of Van Buren's hometown of Kinderhook, New York. A visitor center operated by the National Park Service is located at the site. Access to the Lindenwald mansion is by ranger-guided tour only. The tower cannot be visited due to fire safety codes. In addition, the grounds contain educational signs which tell of the history of the Lindenwald Estate. During Van Buren's lifetime, the site also contained two gatehouses, a north one and a south one. The north gatehouse was demolished in the 1950s, but today the site is outlined with a stone foundation.

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