Our President’s Retreat at Pine Knob (105 years ago)

By today’s standards, Teddy Roosevelt’s presidential retreat would be described as extremely primitive. Situated on a 15-acre parcel in theĀ Piedmont area of Virginia it was known as “Pine Knob,” and lacked indoor plumbing and electricity.

The amazing story of this “new” retreat first appeared in the Spring 1906 issue of American Carpenter and Builder. The article included photos about the new presidential retreat, built for president Theodore Roosevelt (26th president, 1901-1909).

Apparently, Pine Knob was close to the Virginia/West Virginia border, near Harrisonburg, Virginia. I’ve also included photos of the staff, and they were a pretty rugged looking group, and no one had matching uniforms. And where’s the Secret Service?

Actually, I think the security staff is comprised of the quadrupeds, otherwise known and described as bloodhounds.

I’ll bet the cell service out there was miserable. Oh wait, they didn’t have cell towers. In fact, the article below says they didn’t even have PHONE LINES.

Update! Mark Hardin found a contemporary website dedicated to preserving the history of this rustic retreat and found that the proper name as not Pine Knob, but Pine KNOT (which makes a lot more sense). Thanks, Mark!!

To learn more about life in the early 1900s, click here.

To read about Addie Hoyt, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

To read part II of this piece (and see more photos), click here.

Exterior of the Presidential Retreat.

Exterior of the Presidential Retreat. I don't think this would have ever made the cover of "Homes Beautiful."

Interior of the retreat. Note the wood-burning stove.

Interior of the "retreat." Note the wood-burning stove and very primitive furnishings.

The staff is fairly rustic, too.

The staff is fairly rustic, too.

Close-up of the crew at Pine Knob

Close-up of the staff at Pine Knob

Another close-up

Another close-up

Last of three slices of the original photo.

Last of three slices of the original photo.

Original article as it appeared in the 1906 American Carpenter and Builder magazine.

Original article as it appeared in the 1906 American Carpenter and Builder magazine.

part 2 of the original article

part 2 of the original article

And part 3

And part 3

part 4

part 4

And I found this in the December 1905 New York Times.

Whos Kermit?

And I always thought Kermit was a made-up name for a frog!

Part II of this story is here.

To learn about Sears Homes, click here.

To buy Rose’s book, click here.

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2 Comments

  1. Debbie

    That one guy looks like he is holding a puppy.

  2. Marilyn Branch-Mitchell

    I stumbled upon your postings and was fascinated by the info on the Sears homes and even more so by the story of your Great-great Aunt Addie.

    The excerpt from the NY Times and your comment about “Kermit” drew my attention because my father’s name was Kermit Lowell Branch. He was born in 1908, and I was always told that he was named after Kermit Roosevelt. I in turn, grew up wondering why a frog had been named after my father!

    Another coincidence…we live in central Virginia!