Summer White House

taft Family shot with President Taft taken at the Evans Estate

Wanting to get out of the stifling heat of the Washington D.C. summer, President William Howard Taft, his wife Nellie, and their two children, Robert and Helen, chose Beverly as their summer residence in 1909. Mrs. Taft had suffered a stroke soon after the inauguration and it was hoped that the cool breezes and quiet of the shore would improve her health.

At the invitation of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Evans, whose summer estate at Woodbury Point (now Lynch Park) included a guest house called Stetson Cottage, the first family moved in during the summer of 1909.  The North Shore was the summer home to many politicians and wealthy businessmen and their families, many of them well-known to the President and Mrs. Taft.  The President had no trouble finding golf partners at the two local clubs that he joined or people who shared his passion for automobile junkets of the area.  The family attended church at First Parish, participated in local events like parades and Taft laid the cornerstone of the new YMCA on Cabot Street.

tafthouse Stetson Cottage, where President Taft lived for two summers

Soon after the newspaper announcement that the presidential family would be summering in Beverly, souvenir hunters descended on the Evans estate, wreaking havoc on the summer white house of Stetson Cottage and the grounds.  Secret service men patrolled the grounds trampling the flower beds and generally spoiling the serene summer atmosphere.  Mrs. Evans, widowed shortly before the arrival of Taft and his family, put up with the disruption for two years.  She then sold Stetson Cottage and had it cut in half and floated to Marblehead on barges, where it was re-erected on a new site.

A new summer white house was located East Corning Street, at the home called Parramatta.  Unlike Mrs. Evans, the owner Lucy Peabody was pleased to have the first family stay in her home.  She painted the house a patriotic white in celebration.


Courtesy of The Beverly Historical Society