Guest Author - Amanda Masoner
As the 31st President of the United States of America, Herbert Hoover had much come before him and after him. But during his presidency he faced a battle for almost the entire duration of his term. Roughly eight months after he became President the Stock Market Crash of 1929 devastated the nation. Hoover was faced with extreme disaster and defeat and amidst the storm did his best to rally the nation back onto its feet.
He was only in office for one term. Four short years that could have easily felt like a lifetime. And after his presidency his popularity was less than at its peak. But this man had a great life story before, during, and after his stint as leader of this country.
In a little town called West Branch, Iowa you will find where Herbert Hoover began. It is home to the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. I’m sure it would be easy to think that in a town of nearly 2,200 people a Presidential Library would stick out like a dock on a pond. But the town has done an admirable job of incorporating the museum into its landscape.
The Library and Museum is an impressive operation that has a year-round exhibit of the President’s life from boyhood to death. Since 1962 when the museum opened over 2.5 million people have visited. As Iowa’s only President the museum shows off the many endeavors during Hoover’s life.
Different sections of the museum cover Hoover’s career as a mining engineer, Secretary of Commerce, the 31st President, and the great humanitarian he became after his term was through. These are all part of the permanent exhibit.
The temporary shows change every few months and cover a myriad of topics throughout American history. The Museum even has a small theater with a short film on Hoover’s life. The theater is also used for plays put on by volunteers.
As part of the walking tour of the Herbert Hoover National Historic site visitors get to peek into the two-room cottage where Hoover was born. Hoover was raised as a Quaker and one of the buildings on the premises is the Friends Meetinghouse where he used to worship with his family. The Friends would meet in the one room Schoolhouse until 1857 when they built a separate building. The Schoolhouse is part of the tour and is where Hoover was educated as a boy. Several other buildings and sites from his childhood remain and are available for those taking the tour.
After you exit the historic site and museum you are faced with a vast green (or white-depending upon when you visit!) hill. At the top you will see two white gravestones. These mark the gravesites of Herbert Hoover and his wife, Lou Henry Hoover. For a man who traveled the world as President he was still able to return to his homeland in West Branch, Iowa.