Mon. Apr 15th, 2024

Where the former leaders of the free world ended up

MANDEL NGAN / AFP via Getty Images

What does life look like after the White House? While it must be difficult to move on from one of the world’s most well-known residences, these nine former commanders-in-chief didn’t do too badly for themselves when it came to finding their next homes.

From Woodrow Wilson to Donald Trump, click or scroll to see where these retired presidents moved after their stint in D.C…

Woodrow Wilson’s DC townhouse

Everett Collection / Shutterstock

Best remembered for leading the nation in the First World War, Woodrow Wilson left 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the last time on 4 March 1921 following two full terms as president.

Several months prior, the 28th POTUS bought an imposing Georgian Revival townhouse down the road in Washington DC’s leafy Kalorama neighbourhood for his beloved wife Edith, and it was here the couple resided post-White House.

Woodrow Wilson’s DC townhouse

Tim Evanson / Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]

Wilson had suffered a severe stroke in 1919 after contracting Spanish flu and with his health ailing by the time he moved into the home, the couple lived quietly until the former president’s death in 1924.

Following Edith’s passing in 1961, the house was bequeathed to the National Trust for Historic Preservation and opened to the public. Shown here is the elegant drawing room, which boasts fine velvet-upholstered furniture and a Steinway grand piano.

Woodrow Wilson’s DC townhouse

Tim Evanson / Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]

Wilson added shelves in the library to accommodate his huge book collection, and the house was fitted with all the mod cons, from a dumb waiter to a solarium. Many of the prized objects inside the perfectly preserved property were gifts given to the president during his First World War ‘victory tour’ of Europe.

Intriguingly, the house is said to be a hotbed of paranormal activity. Over the years, staff and visitors alike have reported seeing the president’s ghost and hearing a man sobbing.

Woodrow Wilson’s DC townhouse

Tim Evanson / Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]

Everything remains how it was when the former first lady died, including the grand master bedroom, reportedly modelled after the White House’s Lincoln bedroom, but a name change might be on the cards.

Blighting his legacy, Wilson’s racist views and support of segregation have drawn increasing focus in recent years, prompting numerous buildings and organisations named in his honour to adopt new, less controversial monikers.

Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Pennsylvania farmhouse

Abbie Rowe / Getty Images

After a successful two-term presidency during which America reached new heights of prosperity amid the backdrop of simmering Cold War tensions, Dwight D. Eisenhower departed the White House with his wife Mamie on 20 January 1961 bound for their charming farmhouse in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

The Second World War five-star general and 34th president had purchased the property in 1951.

Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Pennsylvania farmhouse

EWY Media / Shutterstock

Not long after buying the farm, the Eisenhower’s remodelled the main house, transforming it into a modified Georgian farmhouse with eight bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a living room, dining room, kitchen and butler’s pantry.

The couple’s favourite space of all is said to have been the glass-enclosed sun porch, which they described as their “oasis of relaxation”. 

Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Pennsylvania farmhouse

EWY Media / Shutterstock

The living room pictured here was the heart of the Eisenhower’s home. Mamie was especially fond of decorating this space for the holiday season and some of her prized decorations have survived.

The standout features of the room include the large portrait of the former FLOTUS by Thomas E. Stephens and the Italian marble mantel salvaged from the 1873 restoration of the White House.  

Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Pennsylvania farmhouse

EWY Media / Shutterstock

As well as Christmas, Mamie loved the colour pink and went all out decorating the couple’s bedroom in the rosy hue. The former president and first lady donated their home and farm to the National Park Service in 1967.

Eisenhower died two years later, while Mamie continued to live at the property until her death in 1979. The house, looking much like it did when the president was alive, was opened to the public in 1980.

Lyndon B. Johnson’s Texas ranch

LBJ Library / Wikimedia Commons [Public domain]

Having been at the helm since the assassination of John F. Kennedy on 22 November 1963, the 36th president, Lyndon B. Johnson, left office on 20 January 1969. His time in office saw him sign the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law, as well as escalate America’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

Johnson and his wife Claudia, known as Lady Bird, made a beeline for the ‘Texas White House’, the ranch in Stonewall they’d bought from the president’s aunt in 1951. The couple are pictured here with their daughters Lynda and Luci.

Lyndon B. Johnson’s Texas ranch

National Park Service

The Johnsons added master bedrooms, an office wing and an incredible 300 phone lines, transforming the relatively humble ranch home into the first functioning remote White House. Johnson actually spent about a quarter of his presidency at the rural property, escaping to his refuge 74 times for a total of 490 days.

The house was decorated in a simple, no-nonsense style and even the most formal rooms, like the Yellow Sitting Room, are devoid of sparkling chandeliers and lavish antiques.

Lyndon B. Johnson’s Texas ranch

National Park Service

Along with the other key rooms in the house, the president’s bedroom has been restored to its original 1960s appearance. It was here the former world leader died on 22 January 1973 after suffering a major heart attack.

Lady Bird continued to live at the ranch part-time until her death in 2007. She was buried next to her husband in the private Johnson family cemetery, just a few yards away from the house.

Lyndon B. Johnson’s Texas ranch

National Park Service

Following Lady Bird’s passing, the ranch house, which was the first post-presidential pad to have a pool, was absorbed into the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park, which includes the former president’s reconstructed childhood home and first school.

Sadly, the Texas White House has been closed to the public since 2018 due to structural issues and isn’t likely to reopen any time soon.

Richard Nixon’s La Casa Pacifica

Bettmann / Getty Images

The only president to have ever resigned from office, Richard Nixon left the White House on 9 August 1974 after his involvement in the Watergate scandal made his position untenable.

Together with his wife Pat, the 37th president escaped to the sanctuary of La Casa Pacifica in San Clemente, California, the 9,000-square-foot oceanside hideaway he’d acquired in 1969 for around $1.4 million (£1.1m), equivalent to $10 million (£12.7m) today.

Richard Nixon’s La Casa Pacifica

Hilton & Hyland

The White House initially claimed the president paid $340,000 (£267k) to downplay the home’s true cost, which was only revealed following an investigation. 

After buying the nine-bedroom, 14-bathroom property, Nixon made it secret service-ready, installed a wall for extra security and replaced the tennis court with a swimming pool.

Richard Nixon’s La Casa Pacifica

White House photo office / Wikimedia Commons [Public domain]

Arranged around a hacienda courtyard, the Mission Revival home welcomed an impressive array of VIPs in its heyday, including the likes of Frank Sinatra, John Wayne and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.

The living room had matching yellow curtains and sofas, and as is the case with the other rooms in the house, positively screams 1970s in style.

Richard Nixon’s La Casa Pacifica

Hilton & Hyland

It’s suggested Nixon penned his memoirs in the house, perhaps in this very office. In 1980, the former POTUS decided to move to New York, swapping La Casa Pacifica for a swish red brick and stone townhouse in Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

The mansion was sold to his friend, Gavin Herbert, co-founder of pharmaceutical company Allergan, who has been struggling to sell it since 2015, even after knocking millions off the asking price.

Ronald Reagan’s Bel Air retreat

Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation / Getty Images

After two eventful terms that saw the fall of Communism and everything from the Iran-Contra affair to massive financial deregulation, Ronald Reagan exited the White House with his wife Nancy on 20 January 1989 for the final time.

They moved into their three-bedroom, six-bathroom home in Bel Air, LA’s prestigious property hotspot – here the couple are shown at the house in 2002.

Ronald Reagan’s Bel Air retreat

Paul Harris / Getty Images

A group of clearly super-generous friends bought the house for the pair back in 1986 for $2.5 million (£2m), which is around $6 million (£4.7m) in today’s money.

All in all, the property has 17 rooms, which were decorated by the Reagans’ interior designer Ted Graber in an unpretentious style, which subtly mixes mid-century modern staples with antiques.

Ronald Reagan’s Bel Air retreat

Christie’s International Real Estate

The 40th president of the US died at the Bel Air home in 2004 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. The house was sold to billionaire and philanthropist Jerry Perenchio for $15 million (£11.8m) in 2015.

Following Nancy’s death a year later, the contents of the house were put up for sale at a Christie’s auction in New York, including this living room sofa, which graced the Reagans’ White House residence.

Ronald Reagan’s Bel Air retreat

Christie’s International Real Estate

The library was packed with leather-bound tomes and decorated with various gifts the former president and first lady had been given on their travels around the world.

The comfy sofa was studded with plush cushions, including the monogrammed beauty seen in the left of this photograph, which Reagan received as a 70th birthday present in 1981. It sold at the Christie’s auction for a cool $25,000 (£19.6k).

George H. W. Bush’s Maine compound

George Bush Presidential Library and Museum / Wikimedia Commons [Public domain]

After a deep recession scuppered his chances of re-election, George H. W. Bush or George Bush Senior as he went on to be known, lost out to Bill Clinton and vacated 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on 20 January 1993.

The house in West Oak, Houston that the one-term president and his wife Barbara intended to retire to was still under construction at the time, so the couple decamped instead to Walker’s Point, their summer vacation compound in Kennebunkport, Maine.

George H. W. Bush’s Maine compound

George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum / Wikimedia Commons [Public domain

Nicknamed the ‘Summer White House’ during his 1989 to 1993 presidency, the compound has been in the family for more than 100 years and consists of the New England Shingle-style main house, which has nine bedrooms, four sitting rooms, a dining room, den, library and more, as well as guesthouse, garage, pool, boathouse and dock.

George H. W. Bush’s Maine compound

Charles Ommanney / Getty Images

When Bush Senior was president, the estate hosted world leaders such as Vladimir Putin and Margaret Thatcher, but the pace of life at the compound slowed considerably when the POTUS left office.

The former commander-in-chief is pictured here in 2003 chilling on a Segway trying to catch the attention of his wife, who is standing in one of the four living rooms.

George H. W. Bush’s Maine compound

George Bush Presidential Library and Museum

The ex-president is shown here taking a phone call in the master bedroom, which is refreshingly ordinary with its double bed and plain bedding, built-in shelving and very 1990s wallpaper border.

It reflects the rest of the property’s décor, which Barbara described as a “hodgepodge — three houses of furniture put in one, no antiques, 15-year-old slipcovers — a house grandchildren are more than welcome in.”

Bill Clinton’s New York Dutch Colonial

Tim Sloan / Getty Images

Having survived impeachment and navigated the nation through the longest period of peacetime economic expansion, Bill Clinton’s two-term presidency came to an end on 20 January 2001 when he moved out of the White House with his wife Hillary.

The couple relocated to the Dutch Colonial farmhouse in Chappaqua, New York that they’d purchased in 1999 for $1.7 million (£1.3m).

Bill Clinton’s New York Dutch Colonial

Susan Farley / Getty Images

The three-storey rural clapboard home dates from 1889 and has five bedrooms and four bathrooms. There’s also a barn conversion on the estate that reportedly houses the former president and first lady’s secret service security detail, plus a pool nestled in the grounds.

Bill Clinton’s New York Dutch Colonial

OWN / YouTube

The Clintons treated Oprah to a tour of the 5,300-square-foot farmhouse back in 2004. This living room, which looks out over the garden, is tastefully decorated.

The floral sofa contrasts with checked and plain armchairs arranged around a coffee table, which is covered in books and ornaments.

Bill Clinton’s New York Dutch Colonial

OWN / YouTube

Like every good ex-president’s home, there’s a well-stocked library in the house. After buying the three-bedroom house next door in 2016 for $1.2 million (£940k), the Clintons now own something of a compound.

While it may be a relaxing place to kick back in, it hasn’t been without its dramas: a fire broke out on the estate in January 2018, for instance, but caused little damage.

George W. Bush’s Prairie Chapel Ranch

White House Photo / Alamy Stock Photo

George W. Bush’s two-term presidency, which was overshadowed by the 9/11 attacks and the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, finished on 20 January 2009.

The former leader of the free world and first lady Laura had bought a four-bedroom, four-and-a-half bathroom mansion in Preston Hollow, Dallas, but chose instead to move to their weekend and summer home, Prairie Chapel Ranch, in Texas’ rural McLennan County.

George W. Bush’s Prairie Chapel Ranch

Rick Wilking / Getty Images

The couple bought the 1,583-acre lot in 1999 for an estimated $1.3 million (£1k) and hired Austin architect David Heymann to create the eco-friendly single-level ranch house of their dreams.

They opted for a pared-down design for the contemporary property, which features three bedrooms and plenty of open-plan living space, along with a pool the ex-president refers to as “the whining pool” after his daughters repeatedly bugged him to install one.

George W. Bush’s Prairie Chapel Ranch

Wikimedia Commons / White House Archives [Public domain]

As tradition now seems to dictate, the press called the ranch the ‘Western White House’ while the president was in office.

While in power, the 43rd leader of the free world hosted a succession of foreign dignitaries at the modern property, from UK Prime Minister Tony Blair to China’s President Jiang Zemin and Spanish King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, as well as US VIPs. The president and first lady are pictured here with the then-attorney general Alberto Gonzales and his wife Rebecca.

George W. Bush’s Prairie Chapel Ranch

Susan Sterner / Getty Images

The design of the home’s contemporary yet welcoming interiors was overseen by Kenneth Blasingame, who worked previously with the Bushes on their private residence in the White House.

The estate also includes a guesthouse and 11-acre fishing pond, where Bush reportedly joked that he enjoyed the “best moment” of his presidency when he caught a monster largemouth bass.

Barack Obama’s DC mansion

Mark Wilson / Getty Images

History-making Barack Obama, the nation’s first African American president, bid farewell to the executive office on 20 January 2017, following two terms during which he steered the country through economic recovery, reform of the healthcare system and more.

After leaving the White House, Obama, first lady Michelle and their daughters Malia and Sasha moved into a rented 8,200-square-foot mansion in the cool DC neighbourhood of Kalorama. 

Barack Obama’s DC mansion

McFadden Group

The eight-bedroom, nine-and-a-half-bathroom brick home, which features a medieval-style turret, proved a big hit with the family.

So much so that the former president and first lady made the decision not long after they moved in to buy it outright from the owners, Bill Clinton’s one-time White House press secretary Joe Lockhart and his wife Giovanna. The Obamas forked out $8.1 million (£6.4m) for the manse. 

Barack Obama’s DC mansion

McFadden Group

This photo of the living room from a 2014 listing shows the property before the family moved in, though it’s likely they would’ve made the décor their own.

The Obamas have made some changes to the property such as installing an in-ground pool, but the overall look remains how it was when they bought the property.

Barack Obama’s DC mansion

McFadden Group

Judging by the listing shots, the bedrooms look as tasteful and well-decorated as the reception rooms, meaning the Obamas probably wouldn’t have had to alter much.

Since leaving power in 2017, the 44th president and Michelle have added another property to their portfolio, a Martha’s Vineyard retreat the couple snapped up last December for a reported $11.8 million (£9.3m).

Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate

Mandel Ngan / Getty Images

When Donald Trump left office in January 2021, he relocated to his sumptuous Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, the so-called ‘Winter White House’, rather than his gilded penthouse apartment in Manhattan or country pile in Upstate New York.

Trump announced that the Sunshine State property would be his family’s permanent residence in 2019, after falling out with lawmakers in New York. 

Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Trump’s Palm Beach estate was an obvious choice for his full-time home after the White House. He purchased the sprawling property for $8 million (£6.3m) in 1985 – the equivalent of $22.9 million (£18m) today. 

The extravagant estate, which is home to a private member’s club, has no end of glitzy amenities, from a 20,000-square-foot ballroom to a beauty salon and spa.

Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate

ZUMA Press Inc / Alamy Stock Photo

In preparation for their return, Donald and Melania renovated the palatial owner’s suite, as well as remodelling an apartment for Melania’s parents.

However, the renovated rooms still have Trump’s signature style, with plenty of plush fabrics, glittering chandaliers, and of course lots of gilding. 

Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate

Zuma Press, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo

The club has continued to serve not only as Trump’s primary residence, but as his favourite venue for hosting events ranging from holiday parties to political rallies.

As the former president gears up for the coming election, Mar-a-Lago is likely to continue to function as his political base, situated as it is in the heart of his beloved state of Florida.

By Admin