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Going Places: Andrew Johnson National Historic Site brings history to life

March 26th, 2012 11:30 am by Staff Report

Going Places: Andrew Johnson National Historic Site brings history to life

Guests to the historic site can vote on the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, using an exact replica of the voting ticket used in 1868.

By Katina Rose


One of the advantages of living in East Tennessee is the ease of a short drive to fun and historical places. A few weeks ago, I took my family to the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site in Greeneville, Tenn. It was the second visit for my 11-year-old daughter and myself, and a first visit for my husband and 6-year-old daughter.


We started our visit at the Early Andrew Johnson Home, across the street from the Andrew Johnson Visitor Center. There, we read about what life was like in Johnson’s time period and answered multiple questions from my daughters, such as, "Is this really what the house looked like?" "Where is the furniture?" and, my youngest daughter’s question, "Is this the chimney Santa Claus came down to visit them?"


We then proceeded across the street to the visitor center. There is an information desk as soon as you walk into the center where you can get answers to your questions and obtain free tickets to the Andrew Johnson Homestead. Tours of the home happen almost every hour between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., but it's best to check at the desk about the availability of tours for that day. Chances are they will find a time that works for your party.


While I was getting the tickets, my daughters discovered Johnson’s Tailor Shop. The visitor center was built around the tailor shop Johnson bought in 1831. Inside this area, tucked away in a corner, is a dress-up area for children. There are period clothes for children to try on as they learn about Andrew Johnson’s early life as a tailor in Greeneville.


Inside the visitor center, we also read the informational signs and looked at several items that came from his home.


There is a small theater area in the visitor center, and we asked to view the short film on Johnson’s life. It was interesting and short enough to hold the attention span of both of my daughters. As we left the theater, the desk attendant asked if we wanted to vote on the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. He gave us an exact replica of the voting ticket used in 1868. We went to the voting table and dropped the slip of paper in the box. My girls thought this was fun and it gave us an expanded opportunity to talk about the impeachment process. For the record, the entire family voted "No. Not Guilty."


We left the visitor center and walked a few blocks to Andrew Johnson’s Homestead. Our tour was led by National Park Service employee Daniel Luther. This was my entire family’s favorite part of the visit. Luther was very informative and animated with his descriptions of the house and Johnson’s life. We were fascinated with the transformation of the house during the Civil War and how history was preserved behind the wallpaper. My daughters enjoyed the story behind Mrs. Johnson’s special box and loved looking at the original toys in one of the bedrooms.


Our last stop was the National Cemetery. The Johnson family burial plot sits on top of a hill with gorgeous views, and during Johnson’s lifetime it was one of his favorite places to think and relax. The day we visited, it was windy and slightly cool, but the sky was blue and the sun brightly shining. It was a perfect spot to pause and reflect on Johnson’s life.


The Andrew Johnson National Historic Site is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., daily, except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. There is no admission fee. For additional information, visit the website at www.nps.gov/anjo or call 423-638-3551.


Going Places is a monthly feature profiling local attractions, sites and excursions in and around the Tri-Cities area. Watch for it on the fourth Sunday of each month. Share photos and stories from all the places you and your family are going in Sunday Scrapbook at sundayscrapbook@timesnews.net.


 

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