Brad Causey
Brad Causey,
Editor and Publisher
R. Shannon Pollard
Kevin Sommers
David R. Wehry
James E. Foy
The Freedom Letter
Presidential Libraries
The greater Los Angeles area is the home of two presidential libraries. The Nixon Library is in Yorba Linda. The Reagan Library is in Simi Valley. History is fascinating regardless of one's political persuasion. In recent years I have been to Mt. Vernon (George Washington), Monticello (Thomas Jefferson), the Truman Library in Independence Missouri, and the Eisenhower estate in Pennsylvania. The Nixon and Reagan Libraries seemed a natural.
The Nixon Library was our first stop. Kind of right in the middle of everything. It is not only an archive and museum but his birthplace also. The house his father built from a kit, and where Mr. Nixon was born in the front bedroom, remains in its original location. 900 square feet, including the loft upstairs. The furniture and layout have been preserved since the early part of the 20th century. (Future President Nixon was born in 1912.) Right behind the hedge next to the house is a bike trail and other houses. Back in 1908 when they built the house, it was on 8 acres of a citrus grove. When Richard Nixon became famous, (he was elected to Congress in 1946) the city of Yorba Linda bought the land and erected an elementary school in his honor. The land and the house were donated by the city for the purpose of the Library in the late 1980's. The school was torn down, to make room for the existing Library/Museum structure. The admission charge was $6.00. (The library complex does not accept taxpayer funds.) Very tasteful museum, theater and replica of the Lincoln sitting room. They have white house recordings from the summer of 1972, a presidential limo, Mrs. Nixon's dresses, life size statues of world leaders, and lots of other artifacts. They even have the pistol that Elvis gave Mr. Nixon during his visit in 1970! It is all set up in a timeline. Watergate is not ignored. Very balanced, very fair presentation.
The Reagan Library is located in Simi Valley which is about 60 miles northwest of Yorba Linda. It is relatively easy to find off of the 118 freeway. (118 is now called the Ronald Reagan Freeway. Shocking!) You go through the town for about 3 miles, turn on Presidential blvd. and follow it all the way up the hill. Other than the mountains themselves, the Library appears to be on the highest hill around. It sits on 100 acres, with magnificent views of the entire valley. The land was donated by a private individual. The structure itself is probably twice the size of the Nixon. The Nixon building is somewhat modern/government looking. The Reagan building is very California looking. Kind of like the campus of Stanford without the sandstone. Large courtyard, grand entry, lots of marble and wood inside. The theater is much smaller than the Nixon version. The office/archive section appears to predominate. The museum itself is laid out in a similar fashion to the competition. Obviously different, because of the personalities, circumstances, and times served. The Reagan Library has an exact replica of the Oval Office, with the furnishings of the time. (So far, all presidential libraries have Oval office replicas, except for the Nixon. He chose the Lincoln sitting room instead.) The gift shop at the Reagan is probably 6 or 7 times the size of that at the Nixon. Interesting.
If you are ever out in this part of the country, have an interest in history, and have either a day or two to spare, both Libraries are well worth a look. You might want to bring a camera!
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