Theodore Roosevelt's Sagamore Hill home will close in December for as long as three years while the popular tourist destination undergoes a $6.2-million renovation.
The effort will be the largest construction project at what is now Sagamore Hill National Historic Site in Cove Neck since the Victorian mansion was completed for Roosevelt in 1885. Mechanical systems dating to the early 1950s will be replaced, and more of the home will be returned to its original appearance.
Guided tours of the house will continue through Dec. 4, after which the mansion will close. But the third floor will be shut to visitors by the end of this month as objects are removed for storage, site superintendent Thomas Ross said Monday.
While the house is closed the grounds along with the visitor center and Old Orchard Museum will remain open to visitors. And the National Park Service will offer additional programs at the site and in Oyster Bay hamlet, including a new 18-minute narrated video tour of the house.
"This project represents a significant investment by the American people ensuring that the Roosevelt home and its irreplaceable collection are protected for future generations to appreciate," Ross said. Funds from the National Park Service will pay for the renovation.
The project will remove a rear porch extension and staff kitchen added in the 1950s. An original light and air shaft running from the roof to the second floor will be recreated to improve interior illumination and ventilation in the house, which has never had air-conditioning.
About 10 rooms will be redecorated to be more historically accurate, completing a project started in 1992, said site curator Amy Verone.
Wiring, mechanical, heating and ventilation, fire suppression, and security systems will be overhauled, according to the Park Service plans. Interior lighting will be improved, making it easier to see some of the objects in the back of the now dim North Room and hallway. A new roof and drainage system will be added.
After two years of planning for the renovation, the basement storage area has already been emptied. Staff and volunteers have begun to remove books and artifacts from the Gun Room and other spaces on the third floor. By next spring 5,600 artifacts and 6,100 books will have been packed away.
Some objects from the house will be displayed in the Old Orchard Museum during the project, including a china set used by the Roosevelt family in the White House. Other items such as Roosevelt's Rough Rider hat and saber from the Spanish-American War will be loaned to other museums.
When the mansion reopens by the fall of 2014, "it will give visitors a more accurate view of what the house originally looked like," Ross said. "And they will have a better experience going through the house."
History of the mansion
- Completed 1885
- Project will remove a rear porch extension and staff kitchen added in 1950s.
THE REST OF THE SITE
Grounds, visitor center and Old Orchard Museum will remain open.