Presidential Sites – Visiting Kinderhook, New York and the Home of America’s 8th President

Welcome to another in a series of travelogue articles highlighting historic sites related to America’s presidents. Located in mid state New York about 25 miles southeast of Albany, the charming town of Kinderhook is home of the farm and restored mansion of America’s 8th president, Martin Van Buren.

Visiting Kinderhook, New York

Kinderhook is a perfect half day trip from Albany, the capital of New York. You’ll find all sorts of things to see and do in Albany, which has the bustle of a government town. Kinderhook is slower paced and small, a typical upstate New York charming small town.

If you enjoy antique shopping, the area around Kinderhook is ideal. Over 35 antique stores dot the streets of Kinderhook and adjacent towns. The quaint downtown area is perfect for a stroll and to stop in one of the local shops or restaurants.

Presidential Trivia

Everyone is aware of the phrase “OK”, but do you know how it originated? Credit goes to Martin Van Buren, whose nickname was “Old Kinderhook”. In letters and memos to staff, he frequently signed off with “OK”, which from his perspective meant “off to Kinderhook”. The abbreviation stuck and morphed into the meaning we know today.

The Home Of America’s 8th President: Martin Van Buren

After winning the 1836 election, Martin Van Buren became the 8th president in early 1837. Not long afterwards, the country sank into a recession. This, coupled with increasing tension between northern and southern states, prevented Van Buren from being elected to a second term. And yet, during his one term, he was well noted for his diplomatic abilities. He successfully navigated the United States through difficult political issues with England and Spain.

He ran for president twice more, in 1840 and 1844, but was defeated both times. This beautifully restored mansion, named Lindenwald, was where he not only conducted his campaigns, but met with prominent leaders and celebrities of the day. In his later years, Van Buren was a respected elder statesman who continued to impact the country until his death in 1862.

From late May through October, Lindenwald and the surrounding grounds are open to visitors. Tours are given on the hour, with tickets available at the adjacent visitors center. Once inside the mansion, you will be taken through many of its 36 rooms, complete with many original furnishings and items from Van Buren’s presidency and family life.

The Lindenwald Estate is just three miles south of Kinderhook and is a popular gathering spot for school groups and the site of numerous special events. It is not too far from the Franklin Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York, making it an ideal stop for those interested in American and presidential history.