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|Birthplace and Childhood Home of William Howard
Alphonso Taft moved his family into a house at 60 Auburn Street (now 2038 Auburn Avenue) in 1851. His wife, Fanny Phelps Taft, died the following year. In 1853, Alphonso married Louise Torrey, who gave birth to William Howard on September 15, 1857, probably in the first floor nursery. William lived in the house until going to Yale University in 1874. Alphonso and Louise moved to California in 1889, leaving the house in the hands of renters. Alphonso died in 1891, and Louise sold the house to Judge Albert C. Thompson in 1899 (she had already moved back to her hometown of Millbury, Massachusetts). Thompson died in 1910, and his widow sold the house to Colonel Ernest H. Ruffner in 1912.
The William Howard Taft Memorial Association was formed on July 7, 1937, in hopes of buying the property from Ruffner's estate, but Robert Taft (one of the late President's sons) thought it would look too opportunistic to memorialize the house his father grew up in and the Association failed to raise the $12,000 asking price. By the 1940's the house had been divided into apartments, and owner Elbert R. Bellinger was thinking about selling it for use as a funeral home. The Memorial Association's efforts were revitalized after Robert Taft's death in 1953, and, thanks to Charles Phelps Taft II (another son), it was able to acquire the house for $35,000.
By 1961 the house was in poor condition and the Memorial Association spent $92,500 on restoration work. The house became a National Historic Landmark on September 15, 1964, was deeded to the National Park Service in 1969, and designated the William Howard Taft National Historic Site on December 2, 1969.
The boyhood home of William Howard Taft has been restored to look as it did when he lived there. All of the family portraits and many of the books on display belonged to the Taft family, but most of the furnishings and decorations are representative of the period rather than family pieces. The Historic Site also includes a separate Taft Education Center, which houses offices, a giftshop, and an exhibit dedicated to Charles Taft. Its official website is www.nps.gov/wiho/.
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This page was last updated on August 28, 2018.