by Ed Healy

Wow! A recent tour of the newly expanded and restored Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site left me grasping for the appropriate adjectives to describe the experience. Captivating. Compelling. Moving. Engaging. Enlightening. I could go on and on but suffice to say that as an American history buff and fan of our 26th President, I was genuinely moved and impressed by the transformation of the former Wilcox Mansion. This is no ordinary house museum experience – this is a house that speaks to its visitors, quite literally – and a 21st Century visitor is magically transported to September 1901 as a witness to events that shook the world.

A little background: In the first weeks of September 1901, Buffalo stepped into the national spotlight following the assassination of President William McKinley at the Pan-American Exposition and the subsequent inauguration of Theodore Roosevelt as the nation’s 26th president. In a simple ceremony in the library of the Ansley Wilcox house, Roosevelt began a journey that would forever alter the course of the United States and the office of the presidency itself. Seventy years later, on September 14, 1971, the Ansley Wilcox house was opened to the public as a historic house museum, the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site.

Today, after extensive renovations and an expansion, the Roosevelt Historic site has introduced an innovative and creative guided tour experience, including a multi-dimensional series of interactive exhibits that invite visitors to experience the site of Roosevelt’s inauguration as a dynamic tour through time. Audio, lighting techniques, and a “storytelling” approach are remarkably effective at transporting visitors back to the drama of September 1901. Families, history buffs, school groups, and visitors of all stripes will find much to keep them occupied and captivated in downtown Buffalo’s reinvigorated historic site.

The Theodore Roosevelt Site is located at 641 Delaware Avenue in downtown Buffalo. For more information visit the website, or call (716) 884-0095.

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