By the time Dwight D. Eisenhower took the oath of office to become the 34th president of the United States on January 20, 1953, the world was entangled in the throes of the Korean War, and the civil rights movement was just starting to gain momentum. The nation needed a leader, and all eyes were on the man who had served as chief of staff of the U.S. Army and as the supreme Allied commander during World War II.
Eisenhower spent two terms in the White House, where he made a name for himself as a popular president and one of the greatest leaders in the nation’s history. Today his legacy lives on not only in the hearts of Americans, but also in the halls of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home in Abilene, Kansas.
Encompassing five separate buildings that feature Kansas limestone exteriors and Roman-travertine-trimmed flooring, the complex spans 22 acres and takes visitors on a journey through Eisenhower’s life. More than 26 million pages of archives and over 75,000 artifacts relating to the president are on display throughout the buildings, where guests can spend their time traversing his boyhood home, the museum, the research library, the visitors center with a presidential gift shop and introductory film and, finally, the Place of Meditation, where the president, the first lady and their firstborn son were laid to rest.
Groups looking for more from the experience can rent many of the public spaces within the library and museum to host a power meeting, a grand event or an Eisenhower-inspired conference of their own. Eisenhower was very much involved in the overall vision for the campus, and today, the complex offers amazing opportunities to mix history and culture while enhancing business meetings and social events with a legacy of leadership in a one-of-a-kind venue.
There are six separate spaces available for rent at the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home for events with a cultural, recreational, corporate and/or educational theme. The Visitor’s Center Auditorium can be divided into two rooms to accommodate up to 300 guests, and the Museum Classroom works well for smaller groups of up to 80 guests. Within the library building, groups of up to 300 guests can meet beneath the fine crystal chandelier in the two-story courtyard and extend the event into the lobby; as many as 24 guests can meet in the conference room, and up to 132 in the auditorium.
The meeting facilities at the Eisenhower Presidential Library feature a catering kitchen for use during events, so planners are free to hire any number of local restaurants or caterers for each function. Popular options include the Brookville Hotel, which is famous for fried chicken and sweet-and-sour coleslaw; Amanda’s Bakery and Bistro, which offers a range of boxed lunches and breakfast pastries — try its Kirby House coconut walnut bread; and Mr. K’s Farmhouse, which has become a local institution best known for its homemade desserts and was a favorite of Eisenhower while he was in town. Alcohol is permitted in an open-bar setting, and service must end no later than 30 minutes before the end of the event.
Before and After Events
The 22-acre campus provides an extraordinary opportunity for meeting guests to explore and stretch their legs before and after events with visits to the exhibits and the gift shop. In addition, the Eisenhower Presidential Library is within one block of the Greyhound Hall of Fame Museum, the Abilene and Smoky Valley Rail Road, the Old Abilene Town and the Dickinson County Heritage Center. Groups meeting in Abilene can also request a special evening group tour of Abilene’s historic Seelye Mansion; many of the home’s furnishings were purchased at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.
The events and meetings team at the Eisenhower Presidential Library can work with groups to provide several extras, depending on the group’s schedule and needs. Examples include a private after-hours group tour of the facility, special White Glove artifact show and tell, and admission to public programs. Guests are also welcome to explore on their own and get a glimpse into the childhood home of the 34th president, a building that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library
Location: Abilene, Kansas
Type of Venue: Off-site, library and museum
Nearby Accommodations: Holiday Inn Express and Suites Abilene