Pine Knot, a simple plank two-story wood cottage nestled in more than a hundred year old forest in Southern Albemarle County, was the country retreat of the Theodore and Edith Roosevelt family during Presidency. The property originally consisted of a cottage in the midst of construction on 15 acres of land which Edith purchased in 1905 from their good friend, William Wilmer, the owner of the farms surrounding the cottage including Plain Dealing. Edith intended Pine Knot as a place for the President's 'rest and repairs'; a wilderness retreat where the family could have privacy and escape the ‘city’ environment of Washington, D.C.
Mrs. Roosevelt made only minor changes to the building, which she specified should remain simple. She insisted the cottage be finished with no insulation or interior finish, and no plumbing, toilet, heat, or electricity with sparse and rustic furnishings. She added the two stone chimneys, moved the stairs from the center to the sidewall to open the main floor and create a room upstairs for their daughter Ethyl and added an exterior porch, her 'piazza' which by her design is supported by untrimmed cedar posts. The President found Pine Knot “perfectly delightful". He thought it “the nicest little place of the kind you could imagine”, but its “real feature” was the piazza Edith had built on it where “it was lovely to sit there in the rocking chairs and hear all the birds by daytime and at night the whippoorwills and little forest folk”. At their Pine Knot sanctuary, the family would hike and observe birds and wildlife, ride, read on the porch and enjoy Virginia's natural beauty. In 1911, Edith purchased an additional 75 acres of land, intending to continue use of the retreat when Roosevelt ran for President again in 1912 as a candidate of the Bull Moose Party. When TR lost the election, he never returned to Pine Knot before his death in 1919. Edith kept Pine Knot until 1941 when she turned 80 years old.
Pine Knot, which is listed on both the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places, is owned by the Edith and Theodore Roosevelt Pine Knot Foundation, a Virginia non-profit organization comprised of local professionals, who interpret and provide access to the site. Visitation is by appointment only.
Admission is free, but donations are encouraged. Inquiries should be addressed to P.O. Box 213, Keene, VA 22946.