Located in Truman Annex just off of Whitehead Street in Key West, Florida is the Harry Truman Little White House Museum. Initially, this building constructed in 1890 served as the Naval Station Commander’s headquarters during the Spanish American War and then for the World Wars. But in 1946 thanks to the recommendation of his colleagues, President Harry Truman came to Key West to get away from Washington and get some relaxation after making some pretty hard decisions for the country. He enjoyed himself so much during this time that between the years of 1946 and 1952, Truman spent 175 days at the Key West facility. Hence, the naming of the museum.
The tour guides that take visitors through the house are very knowledgable about both the house’s history and about President Truman and his time spent at the house. And they make it a point to out particular points of interest in the house, answer questions, and even spread a little gossip. Some interesting fact imparted to us by the docent include:
– President Truman visited Key West five more times after his presidency, but because he was no longer president he refused to stay at the house and instead stayed with local families or at local a hotel.
– President Truman was in Key West when his daughter made her signing debut on the radio. The island’s only radio station was owned by the young John Spottswood Jr, but his station did not broadcast the channel that Miss Truman was to sing on. Harry made a few calls and miraculously the radio station was able to pick up the broadcast, and the two men listened to the program together at the Little White House.
– President Truman insisted on making his own bed when staying at he Truman Little White House.
You will have to visit the museum on your next visit to Key West to learn more about the museum and Truman’s legacy to the island. I wish I would have been able to get some indoor pictures, but photography is not allowed inside the house. And cell phones must be shut off so as not to inter fear wit the alarm system.
Besides President Truman, other presidents that have utilized the house and grounds include William Taft, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton. Other famous visitors to have stayed at the house include Thomas Edison and Edward Hayden. The house may be a museum now, but it is still used for many occasions today. In fact, President Truman’s grandson sits on the museum board and stays at the house on a quarterly basis.
Guided tours are offered every about every 20 minutes through the day, from 9am to 4:30pm 365 days a year. Tours last approximately 45 minutes and include an illuminating short film about President Truman focusing on his time spend in Key West.
To see what is happening on the island during your visit, check out our Key West Events Calendar to see other upcoming special events. For more information about the fun side of Key West… things to do and see in our island city, go to our Key West Web Site.
Before deciding where you are going to eat while visiting Key West or any of the Florida Keys, be sure to read my restaurant reviews; check out our restaurant review section of this blog.
Feel free to Email Me if you have any questions about Key West!!
Island Genn – Your Key West Concierge