High on a hilltop in Cincinnati’s Mount Auburn neighborhood, the Taft House opens to the former family parlor. Inside visitors will find original family portraits, artifacts and a bust of Alphonso Taft — the 31st U.S. secretary of war, 34th U.S. attorney general and co-founder of Yale University’s storied Skull and Bones secret society.
Across the hall, the library contains his secretary of war desk and an original photo of the third birthday of William Howard Taft, 27th president of the United States, 10th chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and the only person in our nation’s history to helm both the executive and judicial arms of the federal government.
“This is Cincinnati’s best-kept secret,” says Reginald B. Murray, a park ranger at William Howard Taft National Historic Site. “The parlor, library and nursery have all been restored to an 1860s appearance.”
The nursery where William lived until age 6 (he was either born here or in his parents’ room next door) is decorated with period pieces. “We had to look through their letters and grandpa’s journals to figure out which piece went where,” adds park guide Paula Marett about the three rooms.
At age 7, William moved upstairs, next to the guest room, where his aunts — Delia, Anna and Susan (his mother’s sisters) — would often stay. Today, the upstairs is an extensive exhibit space, detailing his career on numerous educational panels and displaying select artifacts such as Taft chairs, campaign memorabilia and more.
William attended Cincinnati’s Woodward High School and lived at the Taft family home before leaving for Yale Law School in 1874. While he preferred law to politics, William diligently helped shape our nation for 40 years. “He epitomized public service,” says Murray. “He lived here surrounded by what his mother called ‘inspiration to everything that was good.’” Don’t Miss: The tiles surrounding the fireplace illustrate Macbeth, Taming of the Shrew, King Lear and The Tortoise and the Hare. “Taft was greatly influenced by the Tortoise and the Hare,” says Murray. “Slow and steady wins the race.” 2038 Auburn Ave., Cincinnati, 513-684-3262
Where to stay: Built in 1882, the elaborate Cincinnatian Hotel was once the tallest building in Cincinnati, and it still offers the most luxurious stay in town. 601 Vine St., Cincinnati, 513-381-3000, cincinnatianhotel.com
Where to eat: Established by renowned chef David Falk, Nada offers Mexican-inspired fare and fine cocktails in an innovative, urban setting. 600 Walnut St., Cincinnati, 513-721-6232, eatdrinknada.com