Located in Cincinnati’s historic Mount Auburn District, The William Howard Taft National Historic Site preserves the Greek revival home where Taft, the 27th President and 10th Chief Justice of the United States lived the first 25 years of his life.
The house was built in the early 1840s and was bought by Taft’s father Alphonso in 1851, a little more than a year before William was born. William lived in the house until he left for Yale University in the fall of 1874.
William Howard Taft was born in the downstairs nursery to Alphonso and his second wife, Louise in 1852. It’s presumed that Louise also gave birth to four other children in this room.
The Mount Auburn area at the time was an area of affluent Cincinnati residents who settled on this hill above the downtown to escape the heat and humidity of the summers in Southern Ohio. The Taft house was no exception, often having the nicest furnishings available at the time.
Alphonso was a benefactor of the Ohio Republican Party, and the house saw many gatherings of local politicians and other members of Cincinnati’s upper crust. Alphonso later served as both Secretary of War and Attorney General of the United States. The house was sold by Louise in 1899 almost 10 years after Alphonso’s death in 1891. It fell into poor condition as did the neighborhood around it. Finally, in late 1950s , it was purchased by a trust representing Taft’s family, and was made a National Historic Site in 1864 on the 107th anniversary of Taft’s birth. The trust eventually turned over the deed to the National Park Service in 1968 and in 1969 it officially became The William Howard Taft National Historic Site. Thanks to letters written by Taft’s mother Louise that were later discovered by historians, the National Park Service has been able re-furnish the house as it looked at the time he grew up there.
While most of the first floor rooms have been restored with pieces from the period, the second floor rooms are given over to exhibits on the life and accomplishments of William Howard Taft, a man who spent nearly his whole life in public service.
The building next door serves as the visitor center and Taft Education Center.