The only remaining residence of James K. Polk except the White House, the ca. 1816 home was built by Polk’s father Samuel, and is one of the best examples of Federal style architecture remaining in Tennessee. Today it houses over 1000 objects that belonged to President and Mrs. Polk including furniture, paintings, china, and silver.
The James K. Polk Ancestral Home in Columbia, Tennessee is the only surviving residence of the eleventh U.S. President (excluding the White House). Samuel Polk, a prosperous farmer and surveyor, built the Federal-style brick house in 1816 while his oldest son James was attending the University of North Carolina. When the future President graduated in 1818, he returned to Tennessee and stayed with his parents until his marriage to Sarah Childress in 1824. While living in his family's Columbia home, James practiced law and began his political career by successfully running for the State Legislature. Today, the Home displays original items from James K. Polk's years in Tennessee and Washington, D.C. including furniture, paintings, and White House china.
In addition to touring the main Home, guests may visit the adjacent ca. 1820 Sisters' House where two of the President's married sisters lived at different times. The Sisters' House offers a 12-minute orientation video, a museum room, temporary exhibits, and a shop. The museum features some of the most unique and significant artifacts from the site's collections including daguerreotypes of President and Mrs. Polk, White House gifts and mementos, campaign memorabilia from the Election of 1844, and Sarah Polk's Inaugural fan with miniature portraits of the first eleven Presidents.
The Polk Home's detached kitchen building was reconstructed in 1946 on the original foundation. Visitors to the kitchen see period cooking implements and household accessories. Demonstrations of early 19th century crafts and chores are presented here occasionally.
Although James K. Polk's final residence - a mansion in downtown Nashville - was torn down in 1901, a cast iron fountain from the property has been preserved and is displayed in the Polk Home's courtyard. The site's landscaped grounds feature a formal boxwood garden, a white azalea garden, and a wildflower garden.
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