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More of Don's
photo series.

Presidents' Places: James Buchanan

Buchanan State Park

This is the spot near Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, where James Buchanan was born.

James Buchanan's birthplace

This is the actual cabin he was born in, although it is now on the campus of Mercersburg Academy.

Through the window

Inside the cabin.

Buchanan birthplace monument

Back at the park where James Buchanan was born sits this funny-looking monument to his birth.

Buchanan Childhood Home

Buck spent his childhood here in his father's house in Mercersburg. The building has been added to, and is now a hotel.

From across the street

When he lived here the whole building looked like the right-hand portion of it does now. Mercersburg is a very nice town. You can see below a bit of the main street. Nearby is Mercersburg Academy; I figured it would be a little half-baked campus, but it isn't -- it has a chapel that rivals Westminster Abby (well, maybe not rivals, exactly, but it's large and nice). And you can drive around on campus for a half hour looking for Buck's cabin (well, maybe not a half hour, but ten minutes, anyway).

Two of Calvin Coolidge's sons attended Mercersburg Academy, in the 1920's.

A bit of Main Street

The Buchanan family was quite well-to-do, as was his mother's family. Her brother lived across the street; he had a daughter who was a life-long friend of Buck's, Harriet Lane. Since he was a bachelor (nowadays he would be considered to be homosexual; he lived with a fellow Senator for sixteen years, he never married, he attended parties with women, but went home by himself, as one contemporary puts it. Not that there's anything wrong with that; but Buchanan is the only openly (more or less) gay president we've ever had) Harriet became his first lady when he was president. They fought like cats and dogs; she would head off for Europe in a huff, then return a few months later. He treated her like his baby sister, opening her mail and telling her who she could be seen with. Etc., etc.

Lane House

This is where his niece lived for a while as a child, the Lane House.

Through the window of the Lane house

I believe this house is being prepared to become a tourist attraction. Harriet Lane was a very prominent lady indeed. While in England she was a friend of Queen Victoria and was rumored to have been courted for a time by the Prince of Wales. She was instrumental in establishing the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and involved in many other worthy causes, including aid to the native Americans and popularizing their art. Harriet Lane was a very fine lady indeed, contributing time and money to many worthy causes.

James Buchanan's Wheatland

As far as his presidency is concerned, Buchanan was a disaster. Everyone could see the Civil War coming, but he was ineffectual in doing anything about it, and left Abraham Lincoln with a divided country to preside over.

In 1848 Buchanan acquired this house, Wheatland, in Lancaster. He had two pet eagles in the yard. How about that!

Wheatland front door

I didn't go inside the house, because they don't allow photography. As far as old houses go, if you've seen one you've seen them all.

Beautiful tree at Wheatland

This beautiful tree is located in the back yard at Wheatland . . .

Wheatland garden

. . . as was this jack-o-lantern. I believe they were preparing for a Halloween gala.

Buchanan's gravesite

James Buchanan is buried in a cemetery in Lancaster.

Buchanan's gravestone


All photos on this site ©Donald L. Mark 1973-2007   Back to "Presidents' Places" Index