The site in downtown Buffalo, was once the Buffalo Barracks compound. With tensions between the U.S. and Canada back in 1839, a military post was built here. One building remains from the post, which is the oldest building within the historic site. By 1845, the military post had been abandoned, and the property went into private hands, eventually being given to Ansley Wilcox by his father in law.
In 1901, Buffalo was host to the Pan-American Exposition. While attending the exposition, President William McKinley was shot twice in the abdomen by anarchist Leon Czolgosz. Cabinet members rushed to Buffalo, but McKinley appeared to improve, so the cabinet dispersed, and Vice President Theodore Roosevelt went camping in the Adirondacks. McKinley’s condition worsened due to only one of the two bullets being found. Oddly enough, a primitive X-Ray machine was on exhibit at the Pan-American Exposition, but it was never used on the president. Roosevelt and the Cabinet were summoned once again. President McKinley would not recover.
Roosevelt would arrive back in Buffalo after McKinley had already died. Cabinet members felt that Roosevelt should be sworn in immediately. The Wilcox House was determined to be an appropriate site, so Theodore Roosevelt was inaugurated on September 14, 1901 within the Wilcox House, Buffalo, New York.
The Wilcoxes lived in the home until their deaths in the 1930’s. The home was sold at public auction, and was converted into a restaurant. The restaurant closed in 1961, and the home was declared a National Historic Site in 1966.