President Bill Clinton was born August 19, 1946,
at the Julia Chester Hospital in Hope, Arkansas,
as William Jefferson Blythe III,
son of Mr. & Mrs. Bill and Virginia Cassidy Blythe II.
Young Bill was named for his father who had died two months earlier in a tragic auto accident. Billy Blythe and his widowed mother Virginia lived with her parents Eldridge and Edith Grisham Cassidy in the two-story white frame home at 117 S. Hervey St. Virginia continued work as a Registered Nurse, Mrs. Cassidy worked as an LVN with invalid patients, and Mr. Cassidy had a small neighborhood grocery store. Bill was in and out of his grandparents' home until he was ten, when his beloved grandfather died and the house was sold. Bill writes that although he lived many places during his life, this is home, where he learned the important tasks and values of life.
During the 1940s and 1950s Billy enjoyed a sandbox and swing set in the south yard, where his grandmother or other family members watched young Billy and his friends at play. President Clinton recalls games in the adjoining yards with his neighbor and best friend Vince Foster: cowboys, marbles, mumblty peg. Come play in Billy's sandbox!
The Cassidy's home was built in 1917 by Hosea Garrett, son of Dr. H. M. Garrett, who had a large formal home where our parking lot is now. Later the Garrett house became rental property, and the Cassidy family moved into the home in 1938 when Virginia was fifteen, and purchased it in 1946. The house was near downtown, part of a dense residential neighborhood on a quiet tree-lined street. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Bill spent much of his childhood with his grandfather at Mr. Cassidy's neighborhood grocery, a place where people bought goods, sat and talked, where both the black and white communities were welcomed. This was unusual during 1940s-1950s, thus Billy heard a diversity of ideas, witnessed his grandfather's hospitality and generosity, and gained perspectives that would later influence his ideas, and policies throughout the world. Bill was ten when his grandfather died but the influence remained: "My grandfather was the kindest man I ever knew, teaching me social justice, the dignity and equality of all people." Bill credits his grandfather and his small grocery store with planting the seeds that became the Clinton Global Initiative.
Hope was not a rural town. It had daily passenger train service, two hotels, three movie theaters, and an abundance of shops and cafes, with 8,000 people and a vibrant downtown surrounded by residences and churches. Billy and a cousin often went to Saturday movie matinees. His Uncle Buddy and Aunt Ollie Grisham lived nearby, where the families often gathered. The interior of Bill's 1st Home is restored to the 1940s-1950s when Bill lived there, furnished with help from Virginia, family snapshots and memories of those who lived there.
NOTE: Transitions in Progress 2010-2011
The Clinton Birthplace Foundation, Inc. gifted President Bill Clinton's 1st Home to the National Parks Service in January 2011, a gift to the nation and the world. Location: 117. S. Hervey St., Hope, AR. Home is open daily for interpretive tours 8:30-4:30. Free.
Interim website: www.nps.gov/history
Telephones: 870-777-4455; 870-722-8508.
The Clinton Birthplace Foundation, Inc. and The Clinton Museums Association of Friends continue to preserve Clinton's 2nd Home at 321 E. 13th St. (passive exhibits through porch windows) and to work with the National Parks to benefit Clinton's 1st Home.
P.O.Box 1925 Hope, Arkansas 71802 | Telephone 870-722-6929
On-line store is pending.
(C) 2009, 2010, 2011 Clinton Birthplace Foundation, Clinton Museum Association of Friends, Clinton Childhood Home Museums