Located in Hope, Arkansas, the President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home is a National Historic Site commemorating the family home and birthplace of United States President Bill Clinton. William Jefferson Clinton, née William Jefferson Blythe III, was born in Hope, Arkansas on August 19, 1946 to Virginia Dell Cassidy. His father, William Jefferson Blythe Jr., was a traveling salesman who was killed in an automobile accident en route to Hope for Clinton’s birth.
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Clinton was raised during his early life by his maternal grandparents, James Eldridge Cassidy and Edith Grisham, after his mother moved to New Orleans to pursue a career in nursing. After Virginia Cassidy returned from nursing school, she remarried Roger Clinton Sr., whose surname Clinton adopted at the age of fifteen.
As an adolescent, Clinton was an avid saxophonist and considered pursuing a career in music performance, but instead decided to pursue a career in public service after developing an interest in law study in high school. He attended Georgetown University and the University of Oxford, though he did not complete his degree at the latter institution. He later received a law degree from Yale Law School, where he met his future wife, Hillary Rodham. Clinton served as Arkansas Attorney General from 1977 to 1979 before being elected as the state’s 40th governor. In 1992, he was elected as the 42nd President of the United States, serving two terms of service, during which he was noted as a major proponent of New Democrat “Third Way” centrist policies, which blends elements of social liberalism and fiscal conservatism to promote egalitarianism through action facilitating the distribution of skills. Though he was formally impeached in 1998 on the grounds of perjury and obstruction of justice related to the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Clinton left office in 2001 with the highest approval rating of any American president since the end of World War II, and remains a prominent social activist and public speaker, working with United Nations humanitarian efforts such as the 2010 Haiti earthquake relief efforts.
Permanent Attractions and Exhibits
The President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home preserves the house of Eldridge Cassidy and Grisham, located at 117 South Hervey Street in the city of Hope, Arkansas, where Clinton lived for the first four years of his life. The modest two-and-a-half-story frame house is designed in the American foursquare style, was constructed in 1917 by Dr. H. S. Garrett before its purchase by Clinton’s grandparents in 1946. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994 and converted into a National Historic Site under the care of the National Park Service in 2010. Since 1994, the home has been open for public tours, managed by the Clinton Birthplace Foundation.
A Museum Exhibit Visitor Center located adjacent to the birthplace home contains a variety of rotating temporary exhibits, highlighting aspects of Clinton’s young life in Hope, his political career, and his enduring legacy. An electronic kiosk at the Center allows visitors to browse through photographs of Clinton’s early life at the Hervey Street house, including preserved footage of the home before its later renovation. The Center also contains a museum store, offering a selection of Clinton’s favorite books along with Fair Trade art items, meant to reflect Clinton’s Global Initiative policies during his term in office.
Tours of the historic home are conducted every half hour throughout the operating day, beginning at 9:00am. The interior of the home has been restored in large part to its condition while Clinton resided at the house, with original detail such as the turned-baluster living room staircase and the second-floor hallway beaded boards remaining intact. Original items belonging to Clinton during his young life, such as a Lionel train set he received as a present from his stepfather in the 1950s, are displayed in exhibits at the house. A memorial garden on the house’s grounds, the Virginia Cassidy Blythe Clinton Kelley Memorial Garden, is dedicated to the memory of Clinton’s mother.
Though the Historic Site is managed by the National Park Service, the 501(c) nonprofit Clinton Birthplace Foundation organization still oversees the preservation of the home site and the management of daily touring. Through the continual expansion of historical exhibits to include more images and memorabilia from Clinton’s young life, the organization strives to foster public understanding of the social, cultural, and personal history that helped shape Clinton’s ideologies, and in turn, shaped the global policies of his administration and their lasting effects on modern society. Though the organization does not conduct public special events, private Founders Gatherings honor the restoration and preservation work of Foundation members in maintaining the site as a public living history museum.
117 South Hervey Street, Hope, AR 71801, Phone: 870-777-4455