Here at the museum, we often meet people who are traveling the United States in order to see the many presidential sites around the country. That recently got me thinking that you really could do a good tour of the East Coast just by focusing on the life of Woodrow Wilson. Stretching from Atlanta to Middlebury, Connecticut, the homes of Woodrow Wilson could show the dramatic changes that happened in our country just by tracking the lifetime of one man who lived from before the Civil War to middle of the 1920s. He was born into a household where the work was done by enslaved people and he led the world to forge mechanisms for international peace and to outline the steps to start decolonization.
You can also see some of the clear physical changes to our country by looking at where Wilson once lived. Here in Staunton, several buildings from 1850s still stand and the downtown region is largely unchanged from when Wilson visited the birthplace in 1912. Atlanta’s downtown, meanwhile, has changed dramatically. The loss of any evidence of Woodrow Wilson is just a symbol of how cities like Baltimore have changed while the college towns where he worked still have many of the same buildings on campus but the boardinghouses and muddy streets of the student quarters have disappeared.
You could, of course expand the list of Wilson residences to include his summer retreats and vacations to extend your tour to New Hampshire, Mississippi, Bermuda, the Lake Country, and even Paris. And there is also the gravesite of his first wife in Rome, Georgia and the birthplace of his second wife in Wytheville, Virginia. There are many ways in which a Wilson tour could bring you to interesting places and show hidden sides of America. So, I made a little map of some of the places Woodrow Wilson has lived to help people start planning the trip.