A place where an array of leaders, legendary inventors, dignitaries, visionaries and many prestigious visitors were drawn to throughout its history, Key West’s Harry S. Truman Little White House holds a special place in the history of America. Constructed in 1890 to serve as the naval station’s command headquarters during the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II, this historic site later became the second White House.
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It was the winter of 1946 when President Harry Truman visited Key West and sought refuge from the harsh DC winter at this charming house. After just a few short days, as many people do, Truman fell in love with the island and was soon using his retreat to run the affairs of the government. Although faced with issues of great consequence, including the rebuilding of Europe, the issues of civil rights and the U.S.’s response to the Cold War, Truman found solace at this peaceful haven and was able to continue the work of the presidency.
During 1946 and 1952, Truman ended up spending 175 days living and working at the Little White House and today, so many years later, his presence can still be felt.
Before Truman, the house played host to Thomas Edison, scientist Edward Hayden, Presidents William Taft, John F. Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
Today, a visit to the Truman Little White House treats you to a journey back to the era of Harry Truman and a view of many of his personal belongings. You’ll see where he and Bess lived and dined, original furnishings, personal effects and more. You’ll also see the rooms where Truman met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, worked on the Marshall Plan and wrote the Truman Doctrine.
During the tour, you’ll learn interesting facts about the home and Harry Truman from the knowledgeable docents.
Located in the Truman Annex neighborhood of Old Town, the Truman Little White House is surrounded by historic sites, attractions and a myriad of restaurants and shops.
Garbo’s Grill: Seconds from the Truman Little White House, a tiny metal food cart is where you should head for delicious fare. Don’t be deceived by its size or unassuming ambiance, there’s a reason people line up for Garbo’s Grill. Many reasons actually, from the cayo fish tacos with fresh mahi mahi, red cabbage, mango and cilantro, to the mango brie quesadillas or perhaps the umamiburger complete with angus beef, heirloom tomato, applewood bacon and chipotle gouda.
El Meson de Pepe: Cuban cuisine set in a lively setting, El Meson de Pepe delivers. Serving up delicious Cuban specialties for more than 20 years, locals and tourists alike agree it’s a favorite. Try Ropa Vieja, traditional Cuban shredded beef stewed with tomatoes, green peppers, onions and red wine. Indulge in fried plantains, roasted chicken with a garlic mojo glaze and more. Wash it all down with freshly made mojitos, margaritas or a glass of sangria.
Smokin’ Tuna Saloon: With live music everyday, you don’t really need any other reason to stop in at the Smokin' Tuna. It’s a local favorite and serves up a variety of fresh seafood, sandwiches, entrees and more. Indulge in stone crab claws, u peel shrimp, grilled, blackened, and baked fish and, of course, your chosen cocktail.
Duetto: Some say it’s the best pizza on the island. Others say it’s the gelato they can’t get enough of. You decide at Duetto, located on Greene Street just a few footsteps away from the Truman Little White House. If you’re hungry, you’ll be in the right place. This unique spot has everything from traditional pizza to stuffed and specials like vegetarian and Parmigianino pies - All delicious and served up by a friendly staff. Save room for the gelato; you’ll walk it off later.
Hot Tin Roof: Located at the Ocean Key Resort at the end of Mallory Square, this elegant waterfront restaurant is perfect for a romantic dinner or relaxing family meal. Watch the sunset over the water as you indulge in fine cuisine including salads, sandwiches, seafood and more. Sip a glass of wine or enjoy one of the craft cocktails.