Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, West Branch

#7 of 70 in Historic Sites in Iowa
Historic Site · Tourist Spot
The Herbert Hoover National Historic Site is a unit of the National Park System in West Branch, Iowa, United States. The buildings and grounds are managed by the National Park Service to commemorate the life of Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States. The park was established in 1965, shortly after it was named a National Historic Landmark. It now encompasses 186.8 acres (75.6 ha).

Hoover spent the first eleven years of his life in West Branch. The son of a blacksmith who practiced close to the town, Hoover was born in a small cottage in 1874. The family later moved nearby to the "House of the Maples", a two-story house. Within the next few years, Hoover was orphaned and left West Branch to live with relatives in Oregon. Hoover would go on to become a successful mining engineer, humanitarian, and President of the United States.

The birthplace cottage fell into private hands and became a tourist destination following Hoover's nomination to the presidency in 1928. After the Hoover family acquired the cottage in the 1930s, they worked to develop a park aimed at recreating Hoover's formative childhood experience. Among the buildings that now stand in the park are a blacksmith shop similar to the one owned by his father, the first West Branch schoolhouse, and the Quaker meetinghouse where the Hoover family worshiped. In the 1960s, the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum first opened to maintain Hoover's presidential papers and memorabilia. Herbert and his wife, First Lady Lou Henry Hoover, are buried under a monument designed by William Wagner. After the death of Herbert Hoover, an 81-acre (33 ha) tallgrass prairie was developed.

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Herbert Hoover National Historic Site reviews

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215 reviews
  • We were happy that the Visitor Center was open as there was a film and a small museum about the President. Outside was the 2-room cottage in which he was born, that he and his wife restored and...  more »
  • This was a neat stop. There is plenty of parking at the Visitor's Center. The site is free of charge. Inside the VC they have a small gift shop, a museum, and a short film about President Hoover...  more »
  • This may not appeal to everyone, but I was blown away by my visit. The site itself is gorgeous, truly picturesque, so even if the history of the man or this location aren't a draw, you should come for the spectacle. Do not miss trekking along the prairie trail, which added to the feeling of being transported back in time. I visited early, before the buildings and exhibits opened, but I was surprised at the size and spread of the site. History buffs could enjoy several hours here taking in everything, based on appearances, at least. Glad I visited, and I highly recommend.
  • If you have kids, be sure to ask for a junior ranger book! It's fun to walk through hoovers birth cabin. The town is neat to walk through. Such a simple time! Be sure to stop and admire the ISS sculpture.

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