No. 3: Andrew Jackson - Nashville, Tennessee
"Well, in 1814 we took a little trip" opens the Johnny Horton ballad "Battle of New Orleans." While not completely factual, our seventh President Andrew Jackson of Tennessee did lead 5,000 American soldiers to an 1815 victory over 7,500 Brits to save New Orleans. Jackson, popular with his soldiers, said he was "tough as old hickory" and the tree moniker stuck.
Jackson once owned another more valuable property on the Cumberland River that he sold to reduce debt, moving to another property north of Nashville. Soon Jackson dubbed his farm "The Hermitage," which means rural retreat. The 1,000-acre property had more than 40 slaves to plant and pick cotton, tend to Jackson's wife's elaborate French-style gardens and manage Jackson's racehorses.
Archaeologists preserved slave cabins to maintain this part of American history and continue historical digging on the property. While the Hermitage is one of the most beautiful homes in Tennessee it leaves the enduring sad legacy of American slavery.
In 1880, the Tennessee Legislature gave a 25-acre tract of the mansion and adjacent gardens to the Ladies Hermitage Society. The Legislature also decreed that the remaining 400-plus acres be used to house old soldiers from the Confederacy, as long as their home was kept out of sight of tourist eyes.
There are fees for entrance for all but military personnel and children under 5. The mansion and grounds are open daily.
No. 2: Lyndon B. Johnson - Johnson City, Texas
Lyndon Baines Johnson, our 36th president, loved his ranch near Johnson City, Texas. He was born, died and is buried there. Johnson took the federal government home with him on 74 occasions during his presidency. His website notes he worked at the ranch 470 days -- about one-fourth of his time in the nation's highest office.
Johnson once said, "All the world is welcome here" and indeed he welcomed global leaders and Texas neighbors. His intention was for the ranch to be a public museum after the first lady's death. Since Lady Bird's 2007 death, five rooms of the "Texas White House" have been opened for 30-minute guided tours.
The "Texas White House" has been restored to its 1963-1968 condition, giving visitors a Way-Back Machine to the 1960s when most of Johnson's staff looked like the cast of "Mad Men."
The ranch is open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. The only fee is $2 for people over 17 to visit the ranch house.
In order to visit the LBJ Ranch, you must obtain a free parking pass from the Johnson City Visitor's Center 14 miles east of the ranch near Stonewall, Texas. You can also see the National Park Visitor Center, LBJ's Boyhood Home and the Johnson Settlement where the president's grandparents settled in the 1860s. The parking pass comes with a map and a CD that narrates the ride from Johnson City to the ranch area.
No. 1: Franklin Delano Roosevelt - Hyde Park, New York
Like Lyndon Johnson, Franklin D. Roosevelt was born and buried in the same spot. (However, he died at Warm Springs, Ga., in April 1945.) His father, James Roosevelt, purchased land in 1866 near the Hudson River in New York for $40,000, equivalent to more than $600,000 today.
With FDR's political cache and family growing, Roosevelt and his mother Sara Delano Roosevelt expanded the Springwood Estate house in 1915.
Roosevelt managed to make more than 200 visits to Hyde Park during his presidency. He always considered Springwood his home, and today the mansion still holds much of his vast collections of paintings, stamps, model ships, books, coins and political cartoons.
The Roosevelts entertained at Hyde Park during his presidency to such luminaries at King George VI and Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Winston Churchill of England.
Roosevelt's intention was to leave his estate to the people of the United States and since his death; the estate has been a National Historic Site. Visitors can purchase a two-day pass that offers admission to the home and the adjacent Presidential Museum and Library.
Located just two hours north of New York City, the mansion offers a guided one-hour tour.