Campaign Trail: Visiting Georgia’s Presidential Landmarks

Written By: Carla Francis

Historic Sites Showcase Southern Influence on America’s Chief Executives

Georgia is bursting with presidential landmarks, from President Roosevelt’s Little White House in Warm Springs to the lesser known Woodrow Wilson Boyhood Home in Augusta. These historic sites — like the rural train depot that served as Jimmy Carter’s campaign headquarters and the site where Union Cavalry captured the president of the Confederate States — beckon visitors to immerse themselves in the places, events and personalities that shaped some of America’s best-known leaders. 

Jimmy Carter, 39th President (1977-1981)

Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum (Atlanta)

Unique among presidential libraries in that one-third of its space is devoted to current, post-presidency work, this is truly a living museum. Imagine yourself in the oval office by posing with an exact replica, peruse exquisite state gifts such as a double-sided embroidery from China, and possibly even catch a glimpse of the Carters themselves. Visit the museum’s website for a robust schedule of events, including a presentation on December 17th by Stuart Eizenstadt, “President Jimmy Carter: The White House Years.”

Plan Your Visit: 441 Freedom Parkway, Atlanta; Monday – Saturday; 9 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.; Sunday: 12 noon – 4:45 p.m.; $12 Adults, $10 Seniors (60+), Military, and College Students with IDs, Free 16 and under jimmycarterlibrary.gov 

Jimmy Carter National Historic Site (Plains)

Comprised of three different historic locations — Plains High School, the Train Depot and the Carter Boyhood Farm — visitors will experience the rural town that raised a future president. The oldest building in Plains, the Train Depot, focuses on its zenith as Carter’s presidential campaign headquarters, an era when 10,000 visitors per day came to learn more about the then-candidate. The Boyhood Farm is restored to an age prior to the installation of electricity (1938), while the high school serves as park headquarters and houses exhibits and a video that explains the Carters’ lives in Plains.

Plan Your Visit: 300 North Bond Street, Plains; Open 7 days a week; Hours vary by location; Free, nps.gov

SAM Excursion Line (Cordele)

Take a daytrip through quaint South Georgia towns from the comfort of a 1949 vintage train car. Be sure to disembark in Plains and Archery, where layovers allow time for visiting presidential attractions, including the historic Plains Depot. Specialty rides, such as the “North Pole Express” and “Breakfast with Santa,” are offered during the holidays.

Plan Your Visit: Boarding location, schedule and prices vary. https://samshortline.com

Job # 2004-IMG-004 FDR SP

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President (1933-1945)

Roosevelt’s Little White House State Historic Site (Warm Springs)

Stricken by polio in 1921, Roosevelt traveled to Warm Springs several years later seeking a cure for the disease’s side effects. Constructed in 1932, the home, which first served as a retreat for the president, now houses a museum complex chronicling the story of Roosevelt as a world leader and a man. Many of Roosevelt’s personal effects remain at the house, including his 1938 Ford convertible with hand controls. Take a self-guided tour, or reserve your place on a guided, 90-minute tour.

Plan Your Visit: 401 Little White House Road, Warm Springs; Daily 9 a.m. – 4:45 p.m.; $12 Adults, $10 Seniors (62+), $7 Youth (6–17), $2 Children (under 6); https://gastateparks.org/LittleWhiteHouse

FD Roosevelt State Park (Pine Mountain)

Much of the infrastructure of this 9,000+ acre park was constructed during the Great Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) under the leadership of President Roosevelt. Picnic at Dowdell’s Knob, a historic overlook where FDR dined while gazing over the region’s rolling mountains, and stop by the historic Visitors Center for interpretive displays and recordings of local CCC workers.

Plan Your Visit: 2970 Georgia Highway 190, Pine Mountain; Park open daily; 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.; $5 parking fee; https://gastateparks.org/FDRoosevelt

Woodrow Wilson, 28th President (1913-1921)

Woodrow Wilson Boyhood Home (Augusta)

Home to a young Woodrow Wilson from 1860-1870, this historic landmark housed the Wilson family during his father’s tenure as pastor of the local First Presbyterian Church. Serving “as a house museum depicting the life of the 28th president as a boy growing up in Georgia during the Civil War and Reconstruction,” visitors will learn how his experiences during this tumultuous period impacted his presidency. Specialty holiday tours are offered in addition to regularly scheduled tours.

Plan Your Visit: 419 7th St., Augusta. Guided tours every hour Thursday – Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; $5 Adults; $4 Seniors and Active Military; $3 Students (K-12); Free Children (under 5); wilsonboyhoodhome.org

Warren Harding, 29th President (1921-1923)

The Partridge Inn (Augusta)

In 1923, the iconic Partridge Inn hosted a sumptuous dinner for President Harding, described by the Augusta Chronicle as “the grandest in the history of the city.” Visitors to the inn should first immerse themselves in presidential history by visiting a curio box on the 4th floor, where memorabilia highlighting the pomp and circumstance of the night are on display. Next, dine in the PI Bar and Grill, the same spot where President Harding and his guests dined nearly 100 years ago. While the décor has changed, the atmosphere of Southern luxury remains.

Plan Your Visit: 2110 Walton Way, Augusta. Inn and Restaurant open daily; https://partridgeinn.com

Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America (1861-1865)

Jefferson Davis Memorial Historic Site (Fitzgerald)

Marking the site where Union cavalry captured Davis in 1865, an interpretive video, civil war artifacts, and knowledgeable staff will leave visitors feeling as if they’ve taken part in a historic event. Stroll the site’s nature trail and grounds, which despite hosting a famous Civil War battle, are now well-suited for a relaxing picnic.

Plan Your Visit: 338 Jeff Davis Park Road, Fitzgerald; Wednesday – Sunday; 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; $2.75–$4.00; https://gastateparks.org/JeffersonDavisMemorial

A Piece of Every President

The Carolyn & James Millar Presidential Gallery (Cartersville)

Hidden inside the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville is this remarkable collection of one-page, signed letters from each and every U.S. President accompanied by acclaimed portrait photography. These extraordinary letters written to friends, family and even opponents give a rare insight into keen minds and colorful characters who have led our nation.

Plan your Visit: 501 Museum Drive, Cartersville; Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Thursday 10 am. – 8 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m. – 5 p.m; boothmuseum.org

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