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Sagamore Hill is closed, but you can still visit Teddy Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt, as portrayed by Sea Cliff's James

Theodore Roosevelt, as portrayed by Sea Cliff's James Foote, talks with Sagamore Hill visitor Sal Calamia, of Whitestone, Queens. (December 3, 2011) Photo Credit: T.C. McCarthy

Theodore Roosevelt's Sagamore Hill is now closed to visitors for a three-year, $6.2-million rehabilitation project, but that doesn't prevent Long Islanders from getting to know the 26th U.S. president close to home.

While the 23-room manse (Teddy's home from 1885 until his death in 1919) is off-limits, the grounds of the 83-acre National Historic Site remain open to the public -- and winter isn't a bad time to visit.

"Other than the house [closure], it's business as usual around here," says Joshua Reyes, park ranger. The grounds are open sunrise to sunset. There's a copper beech tree that T.R. planted in the 1890s. A hiking trail leads to a Cold Spring Harbor beach where the president and first lady went swimming.

The Theodore Roosevelt Museum at Old Orchard

WHEN | WHERE 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday, 12 Sagamore Hill Rd., Oyster Bay

INFO 516-922-4788, nps.gov/sahi

ADMISSION Free

A number of T.R. artifacts from the Roosevelt home have been moved temporarily and are being exhibited inside the Old Orchard Museum, a Colonial Revival house built in 1937 by Theodore Roosevelt Jr. and his wife, Eleanor. This includes a roughly 60-piece china set ordered especially by the first lady, Edith Roosevelt, for use in the White House family dining room, says curator Amy Verone.

"It's a plain white field with a pattern around the edge in gold and blue with T.R.'s monogram," Verone says.

Also at the museum: silver candlesticks from his desk, and a famous portrait of T.R., which depicts the president dressed in his naval cloak.

Verone says one virtue of moving these artifacts to the museum is that visitors can now see them up close, instead of at a distance in roped-off rooms.

"It's a chance for people to sneak up a little closer and get a good look," Verone says.

Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary & Audubon Center

WHEN | WHERE 9 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays, noon-4 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and holidays at 134 Cove Rd., Oyster Bay

INFO 516-922-3200, audubon.org

ADMISSION Free

T.R. was a conservation-minded president under whose administration 51 federal bird sanctuaries were created. However, the Theodore Roosevelt Bird Sanctuary was established in 1923, four years after T.R.'s death. Twelve acres were donated to Audubon as a memorial to T.R., by his cousin, W. Emlen Roosevelt. It became the nation's first Audubon songbird sanctuary, according to Audubon.org.

The 15-acre preserve, which includes forest and a meadow, is about a mile south of the entrance to Sagamore Hill. Legend has it that T.R. used to walk or ride a horse on a trail through land that is now part of the bird sanctuary, says Chrissy Kremer, sanctuary education manager.

Surrounded on three sides by the bird sanctuary, and overlooking the sanctuary grounds, are the grave sites of T.R. and his second wife, Edith, in Youngs Memorial Cemetery.

The Theodore Roosevelt Museum at Old Orchard

WHEN | WHERE 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday, 12 Sagamore Hill Rd., Oyster Bay

INFO 516-922-4788, nps.gov/sahi

ADMISSION Free

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