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Interpretive Exhibit Unveiled on TR’s Birthday

Theodore Roosevelt received a birthday present, in absentia. Sagamore Hill National Historic Site Park staff and Naval personnel from the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier were on hand for the unveiling of a new orientation panel for the site on Oct. 27. It is located in the parking area in front of the Sagamore Hill NHS Visitor Center.

James Foote, TR impersonator stood in front of the plaque, with his jacket spread out with both hands, covering the soon to be unveiled plaque. It was just in time to prevent a photographer from snapping the shot before the dignitaries arrived. And arrive they did, along with an official blanket saying: Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, that was placed over it.

The day was drizzly, and it was TR’s 152th birthday, a fitting time to reveal the new sign meant to show visitors just what appeared on the Roosevelt Estate in 1918 – such as the farm, barn, and the pet cemetery.

The Theodore Roosevelt Association’s new Executive Director Terrance Brown was there, along with Mr. Foote, and the men and women of the USS Theodore Roosevelt. The Captain of the USS TR, Douglas Verissimo said he had been doing his homework on TR and was able to tell one of his crew members that “Yes, there was a pet cemetery here.”

Representing the ship were: Captain Douglas Verissimo; ATC Judy Daniel, QM2 Candace Stone, LS3 Christopher McGuire, PSI Kevin Boston, and DCFM Crystal Latham. Also attending was Lieutenant Commander Michael Van Horn, commanding officer of the Navy Operational Support Center of Amityville.

Representing Sagamore Hill were new Chief Interpreter Sherry Justus; Park Ranger Josh Reyes; and Jean Quinn, who retired from being a park ranger after 16 years of service but was there to give a few official commands.

Inside the Visitor Center was Oyster Bay Town Historian John Hammond, making note of the ceremony and checking on his latest book, Images of Oyster Bay, on sale among the many TR and Oyster Bay related items.

Bill and Vivienne Holland of New Hartford, NY were visiting. They are originally from England: he from Lancaster and she from Yorkshire. “I won the war of the Roses,” she said. “She’s still winning things,” he said. Ms. Holland said she saw a group of about 20 children (from the Manhasset middle school) march by James Foote, dressed at TR and “didn’t give him a glance,” which surprised her since he was very much dressed in character. The couple watched the unveiling ceremony before they walked up to Sagamore Hill for the tour.

They were followed by the crew of the USS TR, as they went to enjoy their tour of the Sagamore Hill home of Theodore Roosevelt. The ship has a TR museum on board with interesting artifacts to keep them in touch with their namesake.

Jim and Angie Rowe were also visiting Sagamore Hill from Kent, England. Mr. Rowe said, “We like history. We’ve been to New York many times and went to the TR Birthplace and didn’t realize his home was so close to the city. We didn’t rent a car so we took public transportation here. We went to Syosset and took a taxi from there.”

When told to visit The Bakery for lunch and take the history tour of Oyster Bay: “Next time,” said Mr. Rowe, as he and his wife proceeded up the path to visit the Old Orchard Museum.