Tours through the President's Homestead are available at 10:30, 11:30, 1:30, 2:30, and 3:30. There is no admission charge, but visitors must obtain tickets from the Visitor Center at 101 North College Street no later than 15 minutes prior to the tour. Tour sizes are limited to 12 and begin on the back porch of the Homestead. Visitors may either walk or drive through historic downtown Greeneville to the house. Parking is available.
The hallway has an intricate oil cloth - the Johnson family had what was labeled a "painted carpet." Standing just inside the front door is a hall-tree which holds some of Andrew Johnson's walking canes. Among other items displayed on the wall is a resolution stating support for President Johnson, presented to him shortly after the death of Abraham Lincoln. There is also a picture of the steamboat "Andy Johnson." Johnson traveled on this boat during part of his "Swing Around the Circle" tour.
Andrew Johnson's Bedroom
Welcome to the President's bedroom. It appears much as it did when Andrew Johnson returned home from the White House in 1869 and contains many items that were personally owned and used by Andrew Johnson. The stovepipe hat was worn by Johnson, and the trunk at the foot of the bed was used in his many political travels. "Andrew Johnson, Greenville, Tennessee" is written on one side. Notice "Greeneville" is misspelled.
The library table in the room was used as a desk in the White House by Johnson's grandchildren. Andrew never attended school, but we give his wife, Eliza, much of the credit for furthering his education. Her portrait hangs above his headboard.
Johnson became an avid reader, and you can see books form his personal library in the secretary in the corner. The double glass doors have 13 panes of glass each. These represent the 13 original colonies.
In Andrew Johnson's time, parlors were the center of social activity. A New York newspaper once described this room as a "small front parlor furnished in the conventional style with black haircloth sofa and chair..." Johnson purchased the horsehair set before returning home from Washington. The house had been left in a state of disrepair during the Civil War, and Johnson had to make many improvements when restoring it. It was also during this time that he purchased the square grand Steinway piano for $575.00.
Johnson brought home gifts he received, as well. The tilt-top table was a gift from Ireland and has over 500 pieces of inlaid wood in it. The wax fruit basket was a gift to Mrs. Johnson from schoolchildren in Philadelphia.
The overstuffed chair in the room was Johnson's favorite.
Andrew Johnson Jr.'s Bedroom
Andrew Jr. was the youngest child in the family. He was born in 1852, eighteen years after his nearest sibling. The blue cottage bedroom furniture in this room is the original color. Cottage furniture became popular in the 1850s and is different from the other pieces in the house.
Andrew Jr. was referred to in letters as "that pet of ours" and was affectionately nicknamed "Frank." Frank was only 13 when the family moved to Washington. When he reached adulthood, he operated a print shop on Main Street. With his nephew-in-law he edited and published the Greeneville Intelligencer, a local weekly newspaper.
Shortly after his father's death, he married Bessie Rumbough. The couple had no children. Andrew Jr. died a few years after his marriage at the age of 26.
When the Johnsons first occupied the house in the 1850s, this room was thought to have been the kitchen. The extended hearth and large fireplace contribute to this theory. The adjoining door in to Andrew Jr.'s room was used to carry food from the kitchen into what would've then been the dining room. When the family returned home from Washington, the kitchen was moved downstairs and this room converted into the dining area.
The cherry table is an original Johnson piece. The crystal, china, condiment sets, and a chafing dish were handed down through the family. The chafing dish in the bottom of the open corner cabinet was reportedly kept by Eliza in her room at the White House. When Johnson visited her in the evenings, she could serve him food that had been kept warm in the dish.
The silver water set was presented to Johnson while he served as military governor of TN. The silver service on the sideboard was given by the Johnsons to Philadelphia friends Rae Burr and Dr. A. Nelson Batten as a wedding present. The family later donated it back to the site.
The dining room, in the Victorian era as well as today, would have been a gathering place for the family meal. Notice the outside entrance. Porches were used as "hallways" in that time.
The 19th century kitchen contrasts markedly with the kitchens of today. Most provisions came from the yard; cooks needed a constant supply of firewood; and water was carried from the spring.
The mallet on the table was used to make beaten biscuits. To be good, the dough was given 1000 strokes with the mallet. The kitchen also served as the laundry room.
In the house's early days, this room was probably the house slave's quarters. Johnson owned slaves who would've performed tasks such as cooking, cleaning, helping with the children, tending the garden, assisting Eliza, and building and keeping the fires. After the slaves were given their freedom by Johnson in 1863, they stayed on as servants and moved out into the community into their own homes.
Andrew Johnson was said to have reserved his infrequent smiles for children. He had many children's parties at the White House, and was the first president to hold the Easter Egg roll at the Executive Mansion instead of at the Capitol building.
Andrew and Eliza Johnson had five grandchildren, all born between 1855-1860. All five grandchildren came from the Johnson's two daughters, Martha and Mary, and their husbands. The Johnson sons had no children.
We can assume that during the time Mary was in the adjoining room restoring the war-ravaged Homestead, her children would've been here. Martha lived a short way outside of Greeneville. When she and her family visited, her children would've stayed in this room.
Johnson had the sleigh bed made for his grandson, Andrew Johnson Patterson. The smaller bed with the rounded top would've been filled with feathers.
The toys on the floor are original. You can see a log cabin playhouse set, as well as "salesman samples" of furniture, and circus blocks.