The Kitchen

The Kitchen in the Coolidge Homestead

Calvin Coolidge usually revealed little about his personal feelings. He told what he did, where he was and what happened, but never shared how he felt. An exception is the following story about the Homestead kitchen:

"...visitors would sit with Mother and Father in the kitchen and the hardest thing in the world was to go through the kitchen door and give them a greeting. I was almost ten before I realized I couldn’t go on that way... . I’m all right now with old friends, but every time I meet a stranger, I’ve got to go through the old kitchen door back home and it’s not easy."

The Coolidges ate their meals in the kitchen, and the table is set just as it was on the night of August 2, 1923. It was the family’s custom to wash the dishes after a meal and to put them back on the table for the next one. The plates and cups were placed bottom side up to protect them from dust. After the blessing was said, the dishes were turned over.

The family cherished the plates hanging on the wall, especially the pewter one that belonged to Sally Thompson Coolidge, the President’s great-grandmother, said to be part Native American.

The President and his father used the mirror between the two windows for shaving. Their shaving mugs are on the shelf. The mug on the left has the President's name embossed in gold. Also on this shelf are straight steel razors, a safety razor, and a pair of spectacles and case. This was the best place in the house for shaving, with good light and hot water available on the stove.

The iron sink was kept scrupulously clean, and was sometimes washed with kerosene to protect it against rust. On the drain board is a silver polishing box and a pumice stone for cleaning steel knives. The enamel washbasin and tin dipper were hung up after use. (It was thought that anyone who did not hang these up after using them was shiftless.) To the right of the sink is the wood box always kept filled by Calvin when he was a boy. Next to it are two kerosene cans made of glass and metal. On the stove are an iron pot, teakettle, coffee pot, and a turkey wing used to brush ashes back into the stove.

The telephone in this room was donated by the Vermont Council of the Telephone Pioneers of America. It is similar to the phone that was installed here during the early hours of August 3, 1923, to arrange for the President’s transportation back to Washington D.C. The original telephone was placed on a chair by the window, because as the President’s father commented, "It wouldn’t be there very long anyway." When Calvin left for Washington, Colonel John put the telephone out on the porch.