| |

An effort to make Andrew Johnson interesting

On our Tennessee family reunion road trip we stopped at the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site in Greenville TN. Why would we stop here? Well, it was on the way, we needed a bathroom break, and it has a National Park cancellation stamp. Outside of those reasons, I really do not think we would have taken the time. Sorry, President Johnson but my kids think you are pretty boring.

External view of Andre Johnson’s boyhood home from the backyard
Andre Johnson’s boyhood home

That said, based on the initial impression, Greeneville TN has gone ALL IN on Andrew Johnson. Banners on the main street illustrating the prominence of the 17th president, streets named after him, and there is even a local bank that bears his name. With all this adoration, it doesn’t seem to be surprising that the National Park unit has such a substantial presence. To me, it struck me odd he even has an NPS site considering he was the second worst rank of all US Presidents, with only James Buchanan ranking lower. I mean, if this guy has a site, then they need to get on the ball approving James Polk’s NPS site!

After parking, you get a chance to walk through Johnson’s boyhood home as you walk toward the visitor center. It is a simple walkthrough of the first floor giving initial history of his life, including the prominence slavery in his household early in life.

A short walk from the home, across the street and you arrive at the visitor center. It is fairly substantial, with a small shop, information desk, exhibits that cover his life, and a video overview that paints (in my opinion) a rather overly kind history of his life and presidency. The visitor center even has a complete building within the building! His tailor shop, which seems a bit much.

After the visitor’s center, you can take a guided tour of Johnson’s homestead, which is just down the street. As you can imagine, the kids were not eager to wait an hour to then go on a 45-minute tour of an old house. As such, I cannot provide a first-hand account of the going-ons for this tour. However, please note that they hold two guided tours of this residence, if you have the time and inclination (and do not have young kids who find Andrew Johnson a bore.)

External view of Andre Johnson homestead in Greenville TN
Andre Johnson homestead

The gravesite is the fourth site in the Andrew Johnson collection of sites here in Greeneville. Down the street, a few turns and behind a neighborhood you will find the cemetery. Johnson’s not so modest gravesite sits atop the hill at the center. The main thing I can say, is it has a nice view, and I felt a lovely breeze as I walked around the yard. I was alone in this experience as my children refused to get out of the car. The exhibits, videos, and old buildings did not sway their initial opinion, and so, I stand alone.

So, that is a very high-level view of Andrew Johnson National Historic Site. While I would not put this at the top of my ‘return visit’ list, it is a very well managed and comprehensive view of Andrew Johnson, albeit with it wearing fairly thick rose-colored glasses.

Roaming Monk Tip: After visiting the gravesite, and you are on the way out of town, check out the Camo Kitchen for some local fried fare. I had the catfish, and the kids enjoyed the Hamburgers and fries. It was close-by and hit the spot for a nice easy and fast non-chain meal. Note, they also have ice cream!

Grand Teton National Park with "Travel, Explore and find your adventure" written over the image.
Instagram Icon Black
Threads Icon Black


  1. I thought it was pretty interesting! We stopped on our way to the Smokies as a break and it was a nice little visit. It was definitely a lot more interesting and comprehensive than I thought it would be going into it. The ranger who was staffing the site was very nice and gave us a ton of great information. The town is simple and cute as well. I worthwhile stop on any long journey but I would not travel just for it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *