As a result of Washington D.C.’s notorious summer heat and humidity, several presidents acquired retreats for the purpose of periodically escaping to cooler weather. Theodore Roosevelt was no different.
In 1905, his wife Edith purchased a small, rustic cabin deep in the woods of Albemarle County, Virginia which she subsequently named “Pine Knot.” This simple “worker’s cottage” provided no luxuries but did allow the family to escape the demands of the presidency and to relax in the wilderness of the Virginia piedmont.
Theodore, however, was not particularly fond of relaxation. So while Edith and the children relaxed on the porch and enjoyed the solitude, he used Pine Knot primarily as a hunting lodge.
Pine Knot as (not) seen from a Cirrus SR20
Pine Knot is located just twelve miles south of Jefferson’s Monticello and a few miles north of Scottsville, VA (which is situated on the north bank of the historic James River). The Roosevelts averaged two trips a year to Pine Knot, but never returned after Theodore left the White House in 1909.
Having already visited almost every other presidential birthplace, estate and historic spot within two hundred miles of my home, I decided to find this rustic retreat – from the air, of course. Unfortunately, it proved remarkably elusive.
Pine Knot property (looking west)
Although I was able to find the site, the cabin is extremely well-hidden among the pines, oaks, cedars and maples that surround it. But if you’re feeling a bit adventurous, and have time on your hands, the site is available for tours (by appointment).
The property is affiliated with the Theodore Roosevelt Association and there is a helpful, if slightly spartan, Pine Knot website. But the most interesting information about Pine Knot seems to be hiding in the paperwork associated with its listing with the National Register of Historic Places as well as a 1993 Los Angeles Times article.