Roy’s Motel & Cafe; Ambroy, CA

Roy’s Motel and cafe located in Amboy California isn’t actually something that, if it were located anywhere else, you might look twice at…

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…. at least for that fact that it’s location against the stark beauty of the Mojave Desert makes it somewhat wondrous when you first see it.IMG_7707IMG_7550

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According to Wikipedia the “historic site is an example of roadside Mid-Century Modern Googie architecture” and is under the stewardship of a private  conservationist — the same guy who owns and runs the Original McDonald’s in San Bernardino, California which I also visited … well it would half to be. I doubt it’s highly profitable.

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The moon in the night sky, Kingman Arizona

I took these photos of the moon as I was driving back on route 66 to my hotel… this was my 2nd day in Kingman while I was backtracking to pick up some of what I had lost the day before (the route from Needles California to Kingman Arizona).

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The moon was almost full, and because of being out in the middle of nothing, with no electric lights lighting up the sky, it seemed even brighter than I was used to, and the camera in my iPhone was able to actually pick it up in the evening sky

It was take about in this location… but on the other side of I-40 and looking towards away from the highway

Sitgreaves Pass – Rte 66, Kingman Arizona

By the time I got to my 2nd day of Driving down route 66 … well let’s just there are only so many 66 signs you can see before they start to get a little tired of them… and more than a few of the ‘must sees’ you begin to realize would be less exciting if they were anywhere else. This can not be said for little bit of road. It’s the bit of 66 that connects Needles California to Kingman Arizona

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Not sure there’s much to say… but so so beautiful… it’s a very twisty pass that route 66 takes up and over a hill, and the wise don’t do it faster than 30 mph… and you wouldn’t want to anyway because every turn takes your breath away

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Although, after having driven it you understand why I-40 couldn’t have followed Route 66’s location at this point and had to cut a wide-berth of it

 

Cool Springs Gas Station; Either Oatman, Golden valley or Kingman, Arizona — depending which site you look at

This historic gas station has an identity problem. If you drive on route 66 from Kingman to Oatman, Arizona you simply can’t miss it… really you can’t… but pretty much ever on-line sites that I’ve found it on things its located in a different area… Some say Oatman, some say Golden valley, some say Kingman, and some just say it’s in Cool Springs… and hence the name.

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A wonderful sort of camaraderie tends to form among those of us traveling the route. The pictures of me were taken by a german guy… he had a big fancy camera set up and initially took this photo of me, see below, which was the exact same shot he’d been taking of him and his girlfriend. Then I looked around for good shots, and asked him to please take the photo of me (above)… he at first tried to get close (making me larger in the shot but I shood him back to the spot I’d chosen.)

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he ultimately (when we looked at the shots in the camera) saw that I had clearly found a MUCH better shot and we were now bonded by desire to see 66 and our love of photography. (From then on I watched as he was trying to find other shots that included the 66 on the highway.)

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What was kind of interesting was everyone who passed felt a sort of obligation to buy something. A sort of general awareness that this place (which is miles from anything) could only stay open and access-able to the next person if they did.

Interestingly… they better be a bit careful as I found the store selling this… and my ‘bullshit’ monitor went off big time…

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Kingman Arizona

I’ve only been in this town for two days and I already don’t like it.

Firstly, the Airbnb owner who I had initially booked with had double booked the room — apparently she was advertising it on multiple sites and got confused — and was trying to manipulate ME into cancelling the reservation. In airbnb the person who cancels using the web site, is the person who pays their fee. THEN she expressly tried to trick me into NOT doing was calling them, saying she’d already spoken with them and it wasn’t necessary … which of course I called bullshit on… and call them is what I did. She knew (and I knew) that once they read the emails they would set the cancellation as though SHE had done it even if I initiated the phone call, so not only was she going to pay their fee for using their site, but as a hostess, she was going to loose a lot of points in their “trustworthy” rankings. IF she’d done it herself, she’d have lost them anyway (unless she lied and said a death in the family or some such) plus the fee. So, I called them and explained the situation in full, they cancelled it and gave me a full refund.

Her home was in the historic section of town, which is where I wanted to be. All other rentals were in the new parts … and if I was going to be there I’d rather be in a hotel since there are SO many of them in this town that rooms here are well within my budget (A quick look on google found about 120 motels/hotels in 34 square miles, with the next largest employer being the hospital… I think its safe to say that tourism is their main industry). I opted for Ramada.

That said, no one comes to Kingman to see Kingman. Kingman is on I-40, Route 66, and its a about a two hour drive from here to either the west ridge of the Grand Canyon and/or the Hoover Dam (… so it’s a good base location for short stays while seeing other things.

When I got here, my hotel room had no wifi… it turns out that whole side of the structure has no wifi and they’ve known about it for a while and haven’t bothered to fix it. What killed me was how nasty the staff was to me about it. Orlando has a lot to teach Kingman about customer service when your whole economy depends on on it.

Oh, and I’ve decided that REALLY there’s no reason to stay in downtown Kingman or even on route 66 (which is where my hotel is). The hotels in the other side of town are cheaper, newer, and most likely nicer… and the food there is better.

That said, I tried FOUR different locally owned restaurants only to be DEEPLY disappointed. I even tried a steak house … my fish smelled bad and tasted off. The Chinese couple at the next table were clearly really unhappy with their steaks, as in DEEPLY unhappy.

The sad fact is that in this town … with the exception of Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner which not only came highly rated on ever site I looked at, but I noticed it was full of the local high-school kids on their high-school’s homecoming night … but that didn’t have one healthy thing on it’s menu (it really is all about the burgers, fries and milk shakes)

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The girl with the sash is part of her high-school’s homecoming royal court

…. you really are better off eating at any of the plethora of national chain restaurants in town.

I even tried the Garlic Clove, which is supposed to be one of the better Italian mom and pops in town, and having done so, I seriously question if ANYTHING they serve isn’t frozen, or from a can. That and I had the WORST case of gas and acid reflux afterwards.


OK, I found someplace NOT horrible. It’s totally out of the tourist area. It’s past the hospital and out by the car dealership… it’s called the Kingman Chophouse (king of steak). I got a baked not fried crab cake, a bowl of bean medley soup and a baked sweat potato… and everything tasted just fine.

Traveling Route 66 and detoured in California; am sad

Sept 21st… Driving east, just past Amboy California I discovered that a section of road 66 was closed, I knew not way, and traffic was detoured north on Kelbaker Road to I-40. Writing this, I’ve discovered that it was due to a construction project that began last year (from the looks of it had I driven this a few weeks later I could have done it):

“San Bernardino County Public Works will be constructing two new bridges and road improvements on National Trails Highway (Route 66) at Dola Ditch (2.08 miles east of Kelbaker Road) and Lanzit Ditch (2.77 miles east of Kelbaker Road), east of the community of Amboy. The construction will include removing the existing timber bridges and constructing new timber bridges….Construction of the project is tentatively scheduled to start on March 6 and run through mid-September.”

And then once I got to I-40 it was already approaching 7pm and sunset, so I knew it would be simply silly to return to the road and try to back track it… Which means I missed the ENTIRE trek from Amboy through to Needles, CA (where I grabbed dinner) and then on to Kingman, AZ.

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So I missed Chambless, Danby, Fenner, Goffs, Homer, Bannock, Ibis, and Klinefelter (2nd map because some of the towns didn’t show up when zoomed out to include Needles)

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That said, MOST of what I missed are ghost towns… once the traffic that populated 66 moved to I-40, all of those small towns died… but still …

The next day I DID backtrack one hour to Needles and do that bit (I slept late and got some blogging done in the morning), but I’ve now missed a big chunk and will have to do it at some other point in the future because right now … because I booked all my hotel rooms along the route… I just don’t have time to backtrack… this makes me sad

Bagdad Cafe, Newberry Springs California

Back in the late 1980’s one of my favorite movies was The Bagdad Cafe. It’s a movie about a run down cafe/motel on Route 66, and definitely worth seeing. Anyway, the shooting location, which had been known as the Sidewinder Cafe (before the movie came out) is REAL, although it’s in Newberry Springs (the town of Bagdad which isn’t that far away was leveled after traffic was redirected from Route 66 to I-40, and before traveling the OLD route 66 became a thing) and this week I got to visit it.

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As much as I love me some bumper stickers… I don’t like what they’ve done with the interior of the place

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The Wigwam Motel on Route 66, Rialto/San Bernardino California

First opened in 1949, this motel is a classic Route 66 experience. It’s the sort of thing they used to build in the late 40’s that they just don’t anymore. Of the seven initially built, only three are still in operation, and this is the only one in California. The price is highly affordable (although there are cheaper places to stay in town) and in my opinion well worth doing — at least once in your life, just so that you can say you did.

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Just checked into this historic Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino/Rialto — the address says Rialto but my car’s GPS said San Bernardino and it couldn’t find the street address in Rialto… so be warned.  (A mind blower is that GOOGLE has it listed twice, once in Rialto and once in San Bernardino).

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That and this is a family owned business and they don’t stay open overnight, so if you’re NOT able to be there by 8pm you MUST call them and give them an ETA, and if it’s NOT at a reasonable hour — OR you don’t call, they might give your room away to someone else.

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That said,WOW! The rooms are cute! Granted they’re a lot cuter on the outside than on their insides, but I understand why the association gave them an award, they really have tried to keep the units up to date as much as possible without destroying their charm, and in good repair.

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And when I first tested the wifi at around 9pm, it’s was 76.58 Mbps download and 25.57 upload .. that’s BLAZING fast. I don’t know of ANY hotels that offer speeds like that. I tested it a 2nd time at around 11pm and 166.74 download (TWICE as fast) with essentially no change in the upload. That said, the place was built in the 40’s, so there’s no electricity in the bathrooms — this was normal then, water and electricity not being a great mix.

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One of the things I found kind of cute (and a bit smart) was how reflexive the place is to the Disney/Pixar Movie “Cars”  — a cartoon you SHOULD know if only because it was nominated for two Academy Awards including Best Animated Feature and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film. Anyone who’s seen it KNOWS that it’s animators were clearly influenced by many of the iconic Route 66 locations in the Southwest, which include either this motel, or the one other Teepee motel located in Holbrook, Arizona (where I’m also going to be sleeping in about a week) in the creation of the Cozy Cone Motel in the movie

To ‘promote’ the point, if you will… they’ve parked a bunch of old un-drivable classic cars around the property.

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The Cozy Cone can also be found be found in the Pixar “Radiator Springs” section in Disneyland’s California Adventure Park, as I discovered when I was there.

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Ignore the jack’o’lantern touches… I was there during the park’s Halloween period, and the black eyes and mouths are all temporary/removable appliqués added for the holiday (along with the black widow spider dropping down from the electric pole.

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I found this cool little video about the place back from 2013 that includes an interview with a guy who I assume was the owner at the time.

 

Wagon Wheel Restaurant and gift shop in Needles, CA

The food at the Wagon Wheel is ok, large varied menu … you might like it, you might not… but oh my LORD get the homemade Pies!!!!

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I arrived in Needles at around 8pm (sunset was 7). I ordered a cup of the Navy bean soup and it tasted odd/wrong so she took it away… the guy next to me had ordered the pot roast skillet, and had not only sent back his dinner but had warned me against ordering it (Truck driver) … but I was seriously hungry and too tired after a long day of driving to go looking for someplace else to eat (this place had by far the highest ratings in town)….  All the yelp reviews said “get the pie” so I did… SO GOOD!!! Very low sweet so you could really appreciate the baked fruits… flakey savory crust…. The first time I went I had the apple caramel … and it was SO amazing (and more about the fruit than about the sugar) that I followed it up with a slice of the blueberry which again was all about the fruit (arguably one of the best blueberry pies I’ve ever had).. she said there’s one woman who bakes their pies— this woman needs an award….

The next day I was backtracking on 66 to see the road I had missed because it got too dark to drive it safely anymore, essentially discretion had forced me back onto the freeway till I got to my hotel for the night (The Ramada in Kingman, AZ) and stopped at the Wagon Wheel again… this time I didn’t bother with “food” I just got pie. I got the apple (again, for a late night snake… it keeps well unrefrigerated) and also got a slice of the homemade cheesecake and a slice of flan with a brownie crust (OH MY GOD that was AMAZING!!!)

I’m sorry I didn’t take photos of the pies, I just ate them. Plenty on Trip advisor

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums: Fremont, Ohio

Located in the incredibly pretty town of Fremont, Ohio (formerly known as lower Sandusky) is the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museum (19th president of the United States, 1877-1881). The election of Hayes is actually one of the low points of US history; it was arrived at via the Compromise of 1877, a completely UNDER THE TABLE deal where the southern states agreed to recognize Rutherford B. Hayes as President in exchange for an end to Reconstruction in the formerly confederate states rather than address what had happened in a pretty fucked up election (the outcome of which was statistically impossible). In other words, the Republican party to stay in power, rather than confront election tampering head-on, agreed to put an end to all attempts to use the force of law to give former slaves their civil rights as free men, a chicken shit move that took 100 years to rectify. That said, once in power Hayes did a reasonably good job while president (he tends to be ranked about well as Nixon, Ford or Carter), and as such this is a place worth visiting.

IMG_3288.jpgWhen I arrived in Fremont it turned out to be yet another one of those Ohio towns that in the 1800’s were the place to be, but that are now one of those unexpectedly pretty but economically struggling towns that make for great movie sets. The homes here were impressively gorgeous and/or huge and I had a feeling that it was one of those town where you could buy an amazing home dirt cheap. I saw more than a few ‘for sale’ signs all describing the property as a classic that just needed to be lovingly upgraded.

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The library and Museum are located sort of near the center of town, on a fairly large piece of green land known as Spiegel Grove.

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The Grove is a state park that houses not only the property the Hayes family, but was also (according to the gates) the entrance to the old Sandusky Scioto Trail (which went from Lake Erie to the Ohio River (connecting the St. Lawrence river and the Great Lakes with the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers) — which was used during the Harrison Trail War in 1812 as part of the battle of Tippecanoe (whose memorial in Indiana I also visited)

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The park itself is very pretty, and full of some very old growth trees, some of which were planted by important people, etc.

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On the grounds are two buildings of interest… The home (which you need to buy a ticket and join a set tour in order to see) and the Museum/Library — entrance to which is included in the ticket.

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firstly the Library. Personally I found its front stairs to be fascinating. They had recently been redone to convert them from traditional museum steps to handicapped accessible ones, using a design I’d not seen before…  (on the left or right edges they’re fairly normal steps) AND according to the staff member I spoke to they heat up in winter so that no snow or ice form on them.

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which contains the gift storeIMG_6239.JPGI was actually very impressed with the store because in addition to some of the more obligatory things (t-shirts, mugs, bumper stickers, etc) and the same fake ‘historical type’ stuff which you see for sold at almost all US historic sites, they had gone the extra mile to try to make sure they promoted locally made products.

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The Museum, like ALL of the presidential museums is WELL worth a visit. It’s expertly curated (wouldn’t be surprised if they borrowed someone from the Smithsonian to do it) and discusses not only his administration, but also the family. It starts with the obligatory introductory video:

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The displays on the main floor were about the presidency and started with a discussion of the controversial election, it began by focusing on how issues of suffrage (who did or did not have the right to vote and when) might have impacted the outcome of the election

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And then went into the specifics of what happened, how the south basically did everything it could to sway the outcome (more people voted then there were residents in towns and blacks were actively intimidated and threatened to keep them from voting, etc), all of which led to the final compromise, rather than running a second election.

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And then the presentation turned away from the election to what he was able to accomplish during his tenure.

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And then in addition to all of the “text-book” like displays, there were personal items given to or belonging to the family, scattered around the rooms. After this was a large atrium sort of room (I have a feeling it may have been the original entrance), called The President’s Gallery, that was REALLY beautiful

IMG_6244.JPGOn either side of the gallery were large rooms; one was dedicated to desks used by the president’s administrationIMG_6249

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The collection of signatures is impressive, it begins with our first president, George Washington…  travels through the various presidents beginning with purchased/collected letters … and in the modern period moves to presidents specifically writing to the president’s son, or the library itself…  and ends with Obama

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In the room on the other side of the atrium are items belonging to Hayes’ wife, children, grandchildren and GREAT.

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This is a heck of a doll house I want this doll house

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And then lining the walls were other personal items of the family members

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If you head downstairs, you find more stuff….IMG_3456.jpg

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When I leaned in to take the close up photo of the description of the desk I heard a warning message “You are to close to the exhibit please step back!” in an authoritative male voice…

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This is kind of a cool experiential exhibit, clearly designed for little kids; they’re allowed to stand on platform (it’s one of those weight machines) and experice what a 46 lb load (which is what ever civil war soldier carried) feels like on their back

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They had a temporary exhibit about medicine in that period (later I learned that the business of Fremont had been foundries, which did all sorts of cutlery and things like the surgical knives… hence the exhibit, well at least partially)

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That said… Apparently military service AND weapons collecting were both a big things in the Hayes family going forward based on these collections. One room is devoted to the weapons collected not just by the President, but also by his grandchildren

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If you never studied the war of 1812, it was sort of The American Revolutionary war part 2, begun in large part because the British weren’t respecting American sovereignty

A few of the grandsons went on the be an admirals or some such and were involved in the wars in the Philippines, The Boxer Rebellion in China, and in World War …

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In addition to showing the familie’s arms collection they had an area devoted to their tours of service and what they did

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This included how the female members (like President Hayse’s wife) served by supporting the troups

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One cool thing they did was to try and replicate things like the trenches of WWI, and the Submarines, to try to give you a sense of being in one.  After viewing the exhibit I said to them… that was so cool!!! But you need to dirty up the metal!!

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And then after completing the museume I visited the Hayes home. The tours of the family home happen every hour (rather than every half hour as described by the RoadTrippers web page).

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As I waited to go in I talked to some local women, one of whom was actually (through Rutherford B Hayes’s daughter) related to the family. She told me that the industries here were foundries, which did all sorts of cutlery and things like the surgical knives that were shown in the display in the museum (see above). The town of Fremont, being connected to Lake Erie through the Sandusky river was therefore at the time conveniently located for the transportation of goods, and were also on the railway lines when those came through. Rutherford B. Hayes, had apparently helped build this town — even before becoming President; and that it was really a major nothing when he came to settle here. He built the first church… for his wife (even though he didn’t attend), and he also built a prison because until then all of the prisoners were held in underground pits.

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You can tell by looking at the back of the house (see above) that it was one of those homes built in stages — hence the unwieldy angles of the thing. In fact according to the docent it was built in three stages…

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The lady wearing blue told us REPEATEDLY that she was related to the family through Rutherford’s Daughter. The woman in white, also had a personal connection… her grandfather had been a caretaker of the property and had actually died there.

The initial home (the door and to the left of the docent) was owned by Hayes’ uncle who was a “professional bachelor” (a term we now pretty much always know meant he was most likely gay) who was affluent, but had no wife or children. Hayes own father had died before he was born, so his mom went to live with her brother. Since Hayes would therefore inherit the house, the Uncle had asked him what ‘changes’ he’d like made to it, and he had said what he wanted most was a “porch with a house attached to it”, hence this great big gorgeous porch… which had at one time encircled the whole home. Later when Hayes went to D.C., while he was gone he added to it knowing that now it would need to host (and probably house for the term of their visits) all visitors, official and otherwise who might want to see him, at which point he added two major extension, the bit to the right of the docent (see above), as well as an extension at the back of the house for a formal dining room and a kitchen capable of supporting it.

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At that time, Rutherford B. Hayes, also ordered a new knocker for the home (with a presidential looking Bald Eagle on it) and sent it home to his wife and gave specific instructions of where it needed to be installed — exactly where and how high. The family, once Hayes became president got into the habit of saving EVERYTHING, so we know that it cost $1.95 in 1877 (about $46.83 in 2018 dollars).

No pics were allowed once in the house…. booooo!!!!! I was like, “oh no biggie, I’m sure I can find them on-line… but NO!!! When I started writing this and looked I found they’ve actually done a pretty good job of limiting access to the home. The only rooms shown in the videos were pretty much the ones they had made post cards of, that was it.

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I did however find these videos that DO show the inside:

This one, produced by a local TV station talks at length about the renovation of the first floor of the house to its condition when the former president lived here. This was necessary because his descendants had lived in the house until 1965, and had updated various things to keep with modern styles.

This next, much longer video is from C-Span June 1995 (BEFORE the renovations took place, so the rooms now look different), is much longer and includes a lot of the narrative I heard while visiting.

I can’t embed it but you can click on this link:  https://www.c-span.org/video/?65969-1/rutherford-b-hayes-home

Like I said the family from the time he was elected President were HYPER conscious of their historical importance from that point forward (to the extent of saving the receipt for the knocker). According to the docent, Rutherford’s cousin, who was a photo enthusiast, had visited the home in 1880 —  while Hayes was still president — and took photographs of every single room in the house. These photos were then stored, along with everything else, and rediscovered among the boxes when the unpacking began in 2007, with the start of the restoration (which finished in 2012) so we know exactly how each room is looked.

Over the years, family members that inherited the property kept all of the original everything, and with great care. This family obsession with historical importance was such that THE ORIGINAL FABRIC that covered the sofas and chairs was left on the back of every item whenever they re-upholstered the fronts!!!!  SERIOUSLY!!! As such, they were able to take that cloth and have brand new cloth made exactly to the same pattern and what we see today is that. 

They altered a couple of things, as needed but they intentionally didn’t do any serious damage or made sure to keep examples of the old (like with the backs of the chairs). There’s a cover spread and pillows set that had been hand stitched by a cousin that was gifted to the Hayes’ that he and his wife had used on their bed, that had been folded up and carefully stored once Hayes had died, so that it is now still in perfect condition. When they changed a bathroom room into a different kind of room, they kept EVERYTHING… even if they weren’t using it because they understood it’s historic relevance… down to the square wooden pipes that diverted rain water into the bathtub. (According to the docent when they didn’t have enough rain water collected they would pump it from the kitchen and bring it in by hand).

The house — after the renovations — is four stories … the younger owners had put in wall-to-wall carpeting; and when they pulled it up they found this gorgeous inlaid wood floors. According to the docent in 1880 the cost of changing the house from one story to a four-story $880 (a sum of around $21,753.77 in 2018) …. at the time a daily wage for the workers was $.50-$.70 a day (we know this because the family even saved the receipts for what they payed their workers).

Photos were taken in 1880 and there were some bazaar items that they kept in the museum for forever, assuming “the president’s family couldn’t POSSIBLY have had this in the house… it was probably some odd gift someone had given them”… but when they finally found the photographs in the archives they brought them back into the house. This included one of those chairs made out of deer horns and leather. They have photos of what the house look like in the 1960s and then the photos of what it look like in 1880. There are a few items in the house that are not correctional he had, the two pianos in the house are not original because the second oldest son had taken the two of them and traded them to somebody for a large baby grand. He had over 8000 books and he read all of them

It was supposed to be a one hour tour we went in at 2 o’clock we came at 3:30. This entranceway was recently converted to handicap capable and in the winter time it heats up so they don’t get ice