A farmer, a father, a scholar, public servant, husband, President, and man lived in this house for decades. Harry S Truman is often overlooked as far as American leaders are concerned, but he showed dedication and willpower to lead this nation to stand the test of time. Truman's life filled with expanding power never deterred his tendency to remember where he came from. 219 Delaware Street in the small town of Independence was where President Truman hung his hat beginning in 1919 until his death in 1972. He raised a family and built a legacy while inhabiting this classically designed home. Today it remains as a memorial to Truman and his accomplishments as well as his down to Earth nature.
The Truman home located at 219 Delaware Street was not exactly "the Truman Home." Today that is certainly what it is known as but it was not official until 1952, just before Truman vacated the Oval Office. The structure was originally built by George Gates in 1867 following the conclusion of the Civil War. Originally the home was minuscule compared to its current stature. Gates would build upon his work in 1885 creating one of the larger homes located in Independence with an impressive 14 rooms and over 8,000 square footage. Before it became significant for the man who called it home in the 20th century, the residence was already of great importance and high opinion locally.
Two years before he made his grand addition to the house, George Gates gave his daughter away for the bond of holy matrimony to David Wallace in 1883. The young couple moved 2 miles away into a quaint house located at 117 W Ruby and they would start their new family from there. The Wallaces family would welcome their first child in 1885 and would name her Elizabeth or Bess as she is known to many today. When Elizabeth was two years of age, the Wallaces once again moved to 608 N Delaware in 1887, this time within two blocks of the Gates house. The Wallace family would live at his location for another 16 years.
In 1903 David Wallace committed suicide leaving his family with a large rift and shock. To cope and get away from their grief, Margaret Wallace moved her children and herself to Colorado for a year. When the family returned after their hiatus they moved into the Gates home at 219 N Delaware. In 1919, Bess would marry a young Harry Truman. The festivities following the wedding would actually be held on the Gates grounds. Harry and Elizabeth(Bess) Truman would then move into the house along with Bess's mother and grandmother who owned the property.
In 1924, the Truman's welcomed their one and only daughter, Margaret Truman. Harry became the official head of the house as the oldest male and because of his strong public stature. The Truman household was very tight-knit and family-oriented featuring a large number of family members living in the main house and Mrs. Truman's younger brother's building small residences on the grounds. This is the home that Harry Truman would inhabit while he served as a judge, Senator, Vice-President, and Commander in Chief.
When Harry Truman finally left the White House in 1953, he returned home to Independence and his newly owned home. Elizabeth's mother Margaret passed away in 1952 leaving the house to Harry and Elizabeth. At this point, 219 N Delaware officially became the Truman Home. The President would use the residence as his personal office and base of operations for a handful of years before he set up and established his personal Presidential Library. In the years leading up to his death in 1972, the President and his wife made major renovations and changes to the home to solidify that it would remain for years to come and also to match their personal tastes. After the President passed in 1972, Elizabeth became the owner and when she passed a decade later in 1982 she left the building and grounds to the National Park Service. She left it on the condition that the upper floor never is open to the public to preserve the privacy of the family until Margaret Truman would die in 2008. Once Margaret did pass, the National Park Service honored the former First Lady's wishes and the upper levels still remain closed in solidarity. Photo tours can be taken of the President and First Ladies' bedroom, however.
"The Truman Home." National Park Service. Accessed March 12, 2017. https://www.nps.gov/hstr/the-truman-home.htm.
"Harry S Truman." Harry S Truman Library and Museum. Accessed March 13, 2017. https://www.trumanlibrary.org/hst-bio.htm.
McCullough, David. Truman. New York, New York. Simon & Schuster, 1992.