Van Buren was born in Kinderhook in 1782 shortly
after the colonies successfully ended their
fight for independence. As President of the
United States, the first to be born under the
US flag, Martin Van Buren continued the the
era of Jacksonian Democracy. Not until his defeat
for the presidency in 1848 did Van Buren give
up public life. Subsequentaly Lindenwald became
his retirement home.
Van Buren returned to the place of his nativity
on Saturday last . . . (After the lapse of a
long series of years, spent in the service of
his country, he has returned to the home of
his youth, probably to spend the evening of
his days among those who have long appreciated
the splendor of his genius and admired his virtues."
--Kinderhook Sentinel, May 1841.
in 1797 as the Van Ness mansion, and purchased
by Van Buren in 1839, the home was extensively
modified by architect Richards Upjohn in 1849.
Upjohn changed the house from a large Georgian
style brick structure to a fashionable early
Victorian mansion modeled after the grand villas
of northern Italy. Van Buren renamed it Lindenwald
( Linden Woods ) after the trees that were on
Lindenwald, Van Buren spent his retirement years,
pampered by his daughters-in-law, honored by
his neighbors and by famous visitors. On July
24, 1862, Van Buren died of bronchial asthma
at Lindenwald. He would have been pleased to
know that 81 carriages, including that of the
Governor of New York, followed his hearse to
the nearby cemetery of the Dutch Reformed Church.
After Van Buren's death the house changed owners
many times until 1970 when it became part of
the National Park Service as the Martin Van
Buren National Historic Site, and today is a
National Historic Landmark. As is typical of
many historic structures maintained by the National
Park Service, Lindenwald is a mixture of careful
conservation, studied restoration and woeful
neglect. When last we visited Lindenwald, the
roof was covered by blue plastic, tacked on
with sticks, for lack of funding necessary to
repair it. The landscape lies fallow and untended
except for a tractor that mows the lawns. Immediately
behind the house are 20th century garages and
structures that jar the senses when viewed as
the backdrop of this magnficent house.
inside, the interiors are carefully and patiently
restored to their state at the time of Van Burens
residency. The wallpaper mural in the central
hall has been completely striped, restored and
replaced, bringing a richness and depth to the
room. The parlors and other ground floor rooms
have been restored and filled with period antiques,
family heirlooms, paintings and appointments
that accurately and lavishly recreate and restore
the house to its importance. As an example of
early Victorian architecture and interiors,
Lindenwald has few rivals. As the residence
of Martin Van Buren, it has even fewer rivals
for importance in American History.
and handicapped accessible tours of the mansion
are available from mid April through November.