To honor the legacy of Richard “Dick” Robertson, the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library is pleased to rename the newly renovated Pierce-Arrow Garage, which houses the new exhibit on the history of the President’s car called Chariot of the President, “Robertson Hall” in his honor.  A private dedication ceremony will be held on Wednesday, May 22 with the public opening slated for Friday May 24.

For more than 20 years, Richard “Dick” Robertson led the charge in the preservation and restoration of Woodrow Wilson’s 1919 Pierce-Arrow limousine.  He spent thousands of hours finding knowledgeable mechanics and specialized parts for the car, overseeing its care, arranging for its appearance in shows and parades, travelling all over the country with the car, and sharing information about the car with guests of all ages.  Mr. Robertson’s efforts made the Pierce-Arrow one of the biggest draws at the Presidential Library. 

The Pierce Arrow was originally donated to the “leading citizens of Staunton” by the President’s widow Edith Bolling Wilson in 1925. From the beginning the Pierce-Arrow was seen as the crown jewel of any museum dedicated to the late President.  Leased by the Pierce-Arrow Company to the US Government in 1919, it was the car in which Wilson rode from Union Station to the White House upon his return from the peace talks in France.  It became one of his favorite cars in the White House fleet, so much so that when he left office in 1921, five of his old Princeton classmates purchased it for him.  It remains one of the most important artifacts of the WWPL’s collection, rivaled perhaps only by the Manse itself.

Despite its importance, the Pierce-Arrow was not always cared for the way it is now.  After its arrival in Staunton, the advent of the Great Depression and World War II forced restoration and care of the automobile to the back burner, with most of those efforts being focused on the Manse.  The car would sometimes sit in a field, subject to weather and vandals. It was during this period that some parts were taken, including the carriage lights, that have since been recovered, and the Princeton Tiger hood ornament, which remains missing.

This exhibit, designed in orange and black to mirror the Princeton orange accents of the Pierce-Arrow, will provide new and updated information on the history of the car and its close connection to Woodrow Wilson.  It will also give a place to discussions of the Pierce-Arrow Company and the Wilsons’ chauffeur, George B. Howard.  Mr. Howard lived into the 1970’s and was a fount of information in the early years of the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace Foundation.  It was Howard who discovered the original presidential hood ornament that had been replaced by the since lost Princeton tiger.  One of the suits and a hat worn by Mr. Howard is in the collection of the WWPL and will also be on display alongside the automobile.  The new exhibit will feature interactive components including videos of President Wilson in the Pierce-Arrow and a replica of the car’s horn for guests to hear.  For additional information e-mail, call 540-885-0897 ext. 111, or go to

did you know?

Wilson was president throughout World War I. He sought a neutral position for the United States and even won reelection with the slogan “He kept us out of war.” Nonetheless, actions by the Central Powers (notably Germany) threatened this neutrality. Following years of attacks on American shipping and citizens on the high seas, particularly the sinking of the RMS Lusitania, public opinion began to turn. The final straw came with the release of the Zimmerman Telegram, forcing the United States to declare war on the Central Powers in April of 1917, joining the war on the side of the UK, Russia, and France.

Woodrow Wilson was President when the 19th amendment was ratified in 1920 giving women the right to vote.

Wilson piloted the ship that brought America onto the world stage. He made the first steps of leading us out of isolationism, violating Washington's tenet of avoiding foreign entanglements.

He led America during World War I. His fervent hope was for the US to join a League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations.

A Woodrow Wilson Quote: "Life does not consist in thinking, it consists in acting."

A Woodrow Wilson Quote: "The Constitution was not made to fit us like a straitjacket. In its elasticity lies its chief greatness."

A Woodrow Wilson Quote: "I believe in democracy because it releases the energies of every human being."

The Seventeenth Amendment was formally adopted on May 31, 1913. Wilson had been president for almost three months at the time. The amendment provided for the direct election of senators. Prior to its adoption, Senators were chosen by state legislatures.

Wilson was the first president to receive a PhD which he got in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University. He had received his undergraduate degree from the College of New Jersey, renamed Princeton University in 1896.

Woodrow Wilson could not read during the first decade of his life. Though undiagnosed, he may have suffered from a learning disability

Woodrow Wilson was known as "Tommy" until his college years.

Woodrow Wilson during his boyhood, helped establish the "Lightfoot Baseball Club" with his friends. Wilson played second base and was an avid sport fan throughout his adult life.

Woodrow Wilson was the first president to attend the Major League Baseball Fall Classic. He saw the debut of a young 20 year old pitcher by the name of George Herman "Babe" Ruth.

Woodrow Wilson was a graduate of Princeton University and Johns Hopkins University and the only president to hold an earned doctoral degree.

Woodrow Wilson image is on the $100,000 bill although it is no longer in circulation