Props to Krishna Aniel for organizing the Woodrow Wilson Center intern excursion to Woodrow Wilson’s house.
The tour guides explained that people often confuse the two locations, usually arriving at the house when they are supposed to be at a talk at the Center–5 miles away–in five minutes. Speaking of five, the house has five bedrooms and five bathrooms, plus a home movie projector. It’s pretty nice.
The tour began with an introductory video about Wilson’s life. Apparently he cheated on his first wife. Second apparently: that is almost the only thing that I remember from the video because I spent most of the time trying to see over some dude’s head. But it was interesting that the documentary didn’t shy away from adulterous controversy.
The house belonged to Wilson’s second wife, Edith, until her death, whereupon she donated it as a museum to Woodrow. Edith’s bedroom had a desk, sewing machine, and images of Pocahontas, since Edith was a distant relative of Pocahontas. (That was a really interesting hereditary claim to see in the statues and images of the former First Lady’s bedroom.)
The tour guide went to great pains to explain how progressive the Wilsons were – they even paid the African American man that worked for them six and half days a week (with Sunday mornings off for church) double what other Americans earned at the time. Of course, his wife, “sorry, ladies,” only made what other Americans earned at the time.
Thanks to Edith’s efforts, everything in the house is pretty much how it was when Woodrow was alive – his closet still has all of his clothes in it, including his kangaroo fur coat. Colo(u)r me jealous.
The pantry even had original, unopened 1920s hot sauce and mock turtle soup cans. It was spooky!