The Little White House

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by Joy S on July 28, 2011

This is a must-see in Key West - an absolutely fascinating museum and time capsule where you can learn more about Harry S Truman and his presidency.

It is located in the Truman Annexe area of Key West. This was formerly the naval area and is beautiful with wide tree-lined streets and beautiful big houses. The gates leading into the area used to only be opened for US presidents. Now they are opened for the lucky residents of this beautiful neighbourhood.

The Little White House sits at the top of Truman Annexe. It is open 7 days a week, admission is $16 for adults and $5 for children. Guided tours of the house take place frequently and last about 45 minutes. Our guide was excellent - a real Truman fan - and he gave us a great insight into the personal aspects of Truman's presidency and visits here, as well as a glimpse into the politics of the Cold War and naval history of Key West.

The house is just as it was when Truman used it - many of his belongings are still here. You are not allowed to take any photographs inside.

President Truman used this as his "winter White House" for 175 days and came here 11 times. He was ordered to take a holiday somewhere warm by his doctor in November 1946 as he was suffering from exhaustion. He came to Key West, liked it, came again in 1947 in March and this set the pattern for additional visits every November to December and every February to March.

Official documents issued at this time read, "The White House, US Naval Station, Key West, Florida."

When Truman came here, cabinet members and foreign officials were regular visitors. They went on fishing trips and played poker - the original poker table is still in the house. Divison Street was remaned Truman Annexe in his honour in 1948.

The tour takes in all parts of the house. Downstairs is the aforementioned poker table, as well as the (tiny) presidential desk he had in a corner of the living room. On the desk is a sign he had made which says, "the buck stops here." Upstairs you see the bedrooms of the Trumans and his reading room where he liked to read the newspapers in the morning. His briefcase is also in the bedroom - apparently he would never allow anyone else to carry it. There was always speculation as to what it contained, the answer was his treasured record collection!

General Dwight Eisenhower also came here a number of times, including in January 1956 as President to recuperate from a heart attack.

John F Kennedy and Harold McMillan held a 1 day summit here in 1961, and President Kennedy made a second visit in 1962 immediately following the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Occasionally the house is still used for government functions and at these times can be closed at short notice. US Presidents and former Presidents are invited to use the property and stay at it - a lot of them have done, including Bill Clinton. Apparently President Obama has accepted an invitation to come, but they do not know when.

After the fascinating tour of the house, there is a little museum area with lots more Truman information and photos of his time in Key West. It is also well worth spending some time in there.

I would definitely recommend visiting The Little White House - it is so interesting and informative, and brings history right back to life.
Harry S. Truman Little White House Museum
111 Front St.
Key West, Florida, 33040
(305) 294-9911

© LP 2000-2009