The National Park Service operates dozens of historic places that explore the lives and contributions of many of our U.S. Presidents. They range from homes where future presidents lived as children to memorials that honor their memories after their deaths.
Little Billy Clinton (originally named Blythe until he was adopted by his stepfather) spent the first four years of his life in a white frame house at 117 South Hervey Street in Hope, Arkansas. His widowed mother Virginia left town shortly after he was born to attend nursing school, so the young boy was left in the care of his grandparents, who ran a small grocery store. At a time when the southern U.S. was racially segregated, his grandparents served people of all races, a memory that Clinton says shaped his broad view on race relations and social justice.
The 2½-story home – built in 1917 in a quiet residential neighborhood of Hope – was designed in the “American foursquare” style, so called because of its square floor plan. Its interior has been restored in recent years and although the furnishings inside the house aren’t original, they were carefully chosen to evoke the 1940s, when Clinton lived there. The first floor includes a living room, dining room and kitchen; upstairs are three bedrooms.
Little Billy’s bedroom with its cowboy-themed bedspread overlooks the nearby railroad tracks. Billy loved playing cowboy games with the neighborhood children, many of whom remained friends well into the future president’s White House years.
Today, National Park Service rangers offer guided tours of the home upon request. (Their schedule changes often, so it’s best to call 870-4455 for accurate tour times.) The park also operates a Visitor Center next door to the home, where guests can tour interpretive exhibits focusing on the life of the 42nd president. JNPA operates a gift shop there that features books and other products that interpret his life as well as fair-trade craft products from around the world, upon the request of the former president.
President Clinton credits his early days in his childhood home for many of the important life lessons that later defined his presidency and his leadership as a global statesman. As he frequently says, “I still believe in a place called Hope.”
We’re guessing you wouldn’t expect to tour the boyhood home of a U.S. president in Japan. But you can (sort of). Eccentric Japanese businessman Takeharu Shiraishi, an admirer of Bill Clinton, built an exact replica of the president’s birthplace home on the grounds of a private golf resort. This was in 2000, just as the 42nd president was arriving in Okinawa for the G-8 Summit. Clinton apparently never toured the building, though he later met Mr. Shiraishi.
The modest two-story house features the same white clapboard siding and green trim as its authentic counterpart in Arkansas. It is even furnished much like the original, with period-appropriate furniture and antique appliances purchased in the U.S. The home originally functioned as a tourist attraction then was later repurposed as a daycare center. It has reportedly fallen into disrepair, unlike the real thing in Arkansas.
So if you’re interested in experiencing the ACTUAL birthplace home of Bill Clinton, we suggest you take a trip to Hope. National Park Service rangers give tours every 45 minutes Sunday through Friday. You can also explore exhibits at the park Visitor Center and, of course, stop in at JNPA’s gift shop. A virtual tour of the home is also available for non-travelers, as is our online store.
The National Park Service system currently includes 423 sites throughout the United States and its territories. These range from national monuments and battlefields to national historic sites and recreation areas to national rivers and seashores.
Don’t feel bad if you haven’t visited the majority of these places (most of us haven’t!). But luckily, National Park Week is just around the corner – a perfect time to add to your NPS “life list.”
National Park Week is an annual celebration jointly hosted by the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation to encourage everyone to discover our nation’s diverse historic, natural, and cultural treasures. This year, the week runs from April 16 through 24. Parks across the country will host a variety of special programs, events, and digital experiences, including National Junior Ranger Day for kids on Saturday April 23. You can find out more about programs and themes you might be interested in by going here.
Another bonus for park visitors during National Park Week – entrance fees are waived at all parks on Saturday April 16. (Other 2022 free fee days can be found here). Luckily, there are never entry fees at JNPA’s partner parks but each of them would be glad to see you in April, or any time!
Gateway Arch National Park is a memorial to President Thomas Jefferson and his role in greatly expanding the borders of the United States.
JNPA greatly respects Jefferson’s accomplishments, as evidenced by the many books and statues we sell at The Arch Store. But we also sell a few more whimsical items that still honor our third president, like this stately bobblehead and mini-building block set. (We trust Mr. Jefferson doesn’t object to our…ahem…taking “liberties” with his likeness.)
President Bill Clinton spent his early boyhood years in a comfortable two-story frame house in Hope, Arkansas, an experience that he says helped develop his broad views on race relations, social justice, and public service. Our book on Clinton’s early life features numerous photos of the home as well as of the young future president.
If it’s President Ulysses S. Grant you’re interested in, JNPA offers numerous items commemorating both Grant and his wife Julia. From books to sturdy mugs to fun kids’ products, there’s something for everyone. And don’t forget our popular bobblehead version of our 18th president.