- Some first ladies grew up in humble suburban homes.
- Others were raised on wealthy plantations and estates.
- Many of their birthplaces and childhood homes are now museums or national landmarks.
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The role of US first lady has never been officially defined, and the influential position has continued to evolve over the years from one of hosting and decorating to one of advocacy and political clout.
Many of the first ladies’ birthplaces and childhood homes are unknown, but those that have been preserved are often turned into museums or national landmarks.
Keep scrolling to see where 24 first ladies grew up.
Martha Dandridge Custis Washington was born on a plantation called Chestnut Grove in New Kent County, Virginia.
Martha Washington married her first husband at Chestnut Grove in 1750, became a widow at age 26, and married George Washington in 1759. Her childhood home no longer stands.
Abigail Smith Adams’ birthplace is now a museum in North Weymouth, Massachusetts.
The building underwent a $US150,000 restoration in 2013.
Abigail Powers Fillmore’s birthplace no longer exists, but a historical marker indicates its location at the corner of Munger Hill Road and Gronczniak Road in Stillwater, New York.
The plaque reads: “Site of birthplace in 1798 of Abigail Powers Fillmore, wife of the 13th US President Millard Fillmore.”
Mary Todd Lincoln moved to this two-story brick home in Lexington, Kentucky, when she was 14.
Lincoln lived in the home from 1832 to 1839. The Mary Todd Lincoln House is now a museum, and was the first historic site to be restored and dedicated to a first lady.
Julia Dent Grant grew up on a plantation called White Haven in St. Louis, Missouri.
Ulysses S. Grant first visited the plantation with Julia’s brother, his roommate at West Point.
Lucy Webb Hayes’ birthplace in Chillicothe, Ohio, is now a museum.
Ellen Lewis Herndon Arthur was likely born in Herndon House in Culpeper, Virginia.
Located at 605 North Main Street, the home sold for $US148,000 in 2013. Ellen never actually served as first lady – she died of pneumonia before Chester A. Arthur took office.
Frances Folsom Cleveland spent her teenage years in Medina, New York.
A plaque outside the house reads: “Frances Folsom lived here in the mid-1870s with her grandmother and attended Medina High School. In 1886, at age 21, she married Grover Cleveland.”
Ida Saxton McKinley’s childhood home in Canton, Ohio, known as the Saxton-McKinley House, has been restored to its original Victorian decor.
Ida and William McKinley later lived in the house from 1878 to 1891, while William served in the House of Representatives. Saxton-McKinley House now hosts the National First Ladies Library.
Edith Bolling Wilson’s birthplace is the oldest brick commercial building still standing in downtown Wytheville, Virginia.
The first floor of the building served as retail space, and the Bolling family lived on the second floor.
Grace Coolidge grew up in Burlington, Vermont.
Her family moved to this home at 312 Maple Street while she was in college at the University of Vermont, and she married Calvin Coolidge in the parlor.
Eleanor Roosevelt’s childhood estate is located in Germantown, New York.
The 2,000-square-foot home, built in 1872, is known as Oaklawn Gatehouse.
Mamie Doud married Dwight Eisenhower at her childhood home in Denver, Colorado, known as Doud House.
The Eisenhowers continued to use Doud House as a vacation home throughout Dwight’s presidency, earning it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.
Jacqueline Kennedy grew up in a nine-bedroom home on an estate that became known as Merrywood in McLean, Virginia.
The estate was purchased by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for $US43 million in 2018, according to Sarah Polus of the Washington Post.
Claudia Taylor “Lady Bird” Johnson was born on Andrews-Taylor Plantation in Karnack, Texas.
The two-story plantation, named for its first owner Captain Cephus K. Andrews and Lady Bird Johnson’s original family name, was built by slaves in 1843.
Pat Nixon’s childhood home in Cerritos, California, burned down in 1978.
Nixon’s home was located on the corner of South Street and Ely Avenue in Cerritos. After it burned down, a bronze statue of the first lady was erected there in 1997.
Betty Ford was born in Chicago, but grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Ford moved to 717 Fountain Street in Grand Rapids when she was 2 years old. The four-bedroom house has since been split into several apartments, according to Pat Shellenbarger of the Grand Rapids Press.
Rosalynn Smith Carter’s family moved to this Plains, Georgia, home when she was 16 months old in 1928.
Carter lived there until she married Jimmy Carter in 1946.
Nancy Reagan spent her early years in a three-story wooden house in Flushing, New York.
Reagan lived the first two years of her life in Queens, but was sent to live with her aunt and uncle in Bethesda, Maryland, when her parents separated.
Barbara Pierce Bush grew up in a five-bedroom brick house in Rye, New York.
Bush lived on Onondaga Street with her parents and three siblings. The home last sold for $US1,125,000 in 2001, according to Zillow.
Hillary Rodham Clinton was born in Chicago, but her family moved to this four-bedroom home in the suburb of Park Ridge, Illinois, when she was 3 years old.
Located at 235 North Wisner Street, the street corner has been renamed “Rodham Corner.”
Laura Welch Bush spent her teenage years in a three-bedroom home in Midland, Texas.
Bush’s father built the home in 1961. It sold for $US296,000 in 2017, according to Zillow.
Michelle Obama grew up on Chicago’s South Side.
Growing up, Obama’s parents rented the second floor of her great-aunt’s home. The former first lady returned to the house with her mother in the Netflix documentary “Becoming.”
Melania Trump grew up in a modest home in Sevnica, Slovenia.
Trump is the second first lady born outside of the US. The first was John Quincy Adams’ wife Louisa Catherine Adams, who was born in London.
- Read more:
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- Little-known facts about every American first lady
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