14 presidents who grew up in surprisingly humble homes

14 presidents who grew up in surprisingly humble homes

  • Some presidents like John F. Kennedy and Franklin Delano Roosevelt were born to wealthy families with large estates. Others came from working-class families who lived in small cabins or on farms. 
  • President Abraham Lincoln was born and raised in a one-bedroom log cabin on the Kentucky frontier. 
  • President Jimmy Carter famously grew up on a farm, where he helped his dad grow and harvest crops including peanuts and cotton. 
  • For almost the first year of his life, President Ulysses S. Grant's family paid $2 a month to live in a tiny cottage. 
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While some presidents like Franklin Delano Roosevelt were born to wealthy families and grew up in large estates, other presidents started their journeys to the White House in more humble settings. 

From log cabins to small ranch-style homes, these humble structures were once home to future presidents.

Take a look at modest homes 14 presidents called home as children.

John Adams was born in this quiet cottage in rural Massachusetts in 1735.

In the summer months, John Adams' father, Deacon, would till the 6 acres of land his humble cottage was situated on. During the winter he practiced cordwaining (a form of leather shoe making).

James Buchanan, the United States' 15th president, was born in this unpretentious log cabin in 1791.

The cabin is in surprisingly good shape for being built sometime during the 1700s. It was moved from Buchanan's birthplace of Stony Batter in Cove Gap (which is now a state park), Pennsylvania, to the Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. 

James K. Polk grew up on a humble homestead, which has been recreated for a National Historic Site.

The 150-acre farm in North Carolina where Polk was born in 1795 now features vintage 1800s log buildings — including a cabin, a barn, and a kitchen — and furnishings similar to the buildings original to the property.

Polk lived on the property until he left for Tenessee at age 11. He would later return to North Carolina to attend college at the University of North Carolina. 

Millard Fillmore spent his childhood in this log cabin in New Hope, New York.

Fillmore, who was born in 1800, was one of eight children, and his parents were farmers.

Though the birthplace of the 13th US president is no longer standing, a plaque and picnic tables now commemorate the location. 

Abraham Lincoln grew up in a one-room log cabin on the Kentucky frontier.

Lincoln was born in 1809 in a small log cabin on his father's Sinking Spring Farm near Louisville, Kentucky. Lincoln's family lived at the cabin until he was 2 and a 1/2. His father, a carpenter and farmer, then moved the family to another farm 10 miles away.

The original cabin is no longer standing but a replica, pictured, is on display at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park. 

Ulysses S. Grant lived in this quaint cottage for less than a year after his birth in 1822.

Grant's family paid $2 a month to live in this cottage for just under a year until his father, Jesse Grant, who was a tanner, saved enough money to build a tannery in the nearby town of Georgetown, Ohio. 

The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a historic house museum operated under the Ohio Historical Society. The inside is furnished with items that once belonged to Grant. 

A replica shows the modest log cabin where future president James Garfield was born.

The original cabin in Moreland Hills, Ohio, where James Garfield — the youngest of five children — was born in 1831 no longer stands. But a replica cabin, a statue, and a plaque commemorate his birth. 

Herbert Hoover spent the first three years of his life in this two-bedroom cottage in West Branch, Iowa.

Hoover was born in this small cottage in 1874. According to the National Park Service, one of the rooms was used as a bedroom for Hoover, his parents, his older brother and, after her birth, his younger sister. The second room was a living and kitchen area. The family later moved to a two-story house.

Hoover later said, "This cottage where I was born is physical proof of the unbounded opportunity of American life."

Harry S. Truman was born in this small house in Lamar, Missouri, in 1884.

Free tours are available of this Missouri State Historical Site where President Harry S. Truman was born. Inside, furnishings from the period show what life was like when Truman was growing up in the late 1800s. 

In 1908, Lyndon B. Johnson was born in a ranch-style home in Johnson City, Texas.

According to the National Park Service, the home where Johnson was born and spent his childhood was constructed in 1889 by his grandfather Samuel Ealy Johnson, Sr. 

In 1964, LBJ hired the architect J. Roy White of Austin, Texas, to reconstruct his birth home for people interested in learning more about his heritage. According to the NPS, Johnson's birthplace home "has the distinction of being the only presidential birthplace reconstructed, refurbished, and interpreted by an incumbent President."

LBJ spent his childhood in a different house in Johnson City.

Johnson lived in his boyhood home from the age of 5 until he graduated high school in 1924. Both his birthplace and boyhood homes are part of a National Historic Park. 

Ronald Reagan was born in an apartment above a bakery-turned-bank building in downtown Tampico, Illinois, in 1911.

Though Ronald Reagan only lived in the apartment for four months after his birth, the bank is now a gift shop for the Reagan Museum.

The Plains, Georgia, farm where Jimmy Carter spent most of his childhood had no indoor electricity or plumbing and relied on wood stoves for heat.

Carter's family moved to this farm when he was 4 years old. He helped his father, Earl, raise cotton, corn, peanuts, and sugar cane, all of which they sold alongside other items including coffee and kerosene at a country store near their house. 

The National Park Service quotes Carter as saying, "The early years of my life on the farm were full and enjoyable, isolated but not lonely. We always had enough to eat, no economic hardship, but no money to waste. We felt close to nature, close to members of our family, and close to God."

The former president still lives humbly today. He and his wife, Rosalynn, live in a two-bedroom home in Plains assessed at $167,000, "less than the value of the armored Secret Service vehicles parked outside," the Washington Post reported in 2018.

The Bush family lived in this 1,400-square-foot home in Midland, Texas.

George W. Bush, pictured at the home in 2008, was born in 1946.

Though it started out simple, the George W. Bush Childhood Home now includes a 4,000-square-foot visitor center and exhibition gallery, as well as a neighboring home that has been turned into administrative offices, a temporary education center, and a gift shop. 

A young Barack Obama lived in this single-family craftsman home in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Obama and his mother rented the home for three years in the 1960s, starting when he was 3, while she attended the nearby University of Hawaii at Manoa.

The three-bedroom home was listed earlier this year for $2 million. It previously sold for $1.3 million in 2006, according to Forbes. 

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