William J. Clinton 42nd President, 1993-2001

Birthplace Home, Hope, Arkansas
William Jefferson Blythe, Jr., later named William Jefferson Clinton, was born at the Julia Chester Hospital in Hope, Arkansas on August 19, 1946. The hospital has been demolished. Renovation plans to restore the first home of President Bill Clinton in Hope, Arkansas began in 1993, and are being coordinated by the non-profit Clinton Birthplace Foundation, Inc. Virginia Kelley, the president’s late mother, was personally involved in the project, and provided valuable details on the restoration of the house to its 1946 appearance. The wood frame house is a two and one-half story American Foursquare design built in 1917, but has not been owned by the Clinton family for the past 30 years. In that time, the house unfortunately underwent major fire, water, and structural damage.

The house is now owned by the non-profit Foundation, with all exterior and interior restoration efforts supervised by the nationally recognized Cromwell Architects-Engineers firm in Little Rock. Renovation began in 1995 to restore the house to its original setting during the childhood of President Bill Clinton, while also keeping the house in building code compliance. Through interactive exhibits and interpretive programs, the Visitors Center will promote the value of education and the importance of history. Planned completion of the First Home restoration and new Visitors Center is in 1996, just prior to the President’s 50th birthday. President Clinton’s First Home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994 as “the single property most significantly and exclusively associated with Clinton’s humble beginnings, the inner strength he learned from his mother, and the dedication to purpose that has sustained him throughout his distinguished political career.”

Boyhood Home, Hope, Arkansas
Bill Clinton lived in this house with his mother and stepfather, Roger Clinton, from 1950 until 1953. During those years, the future president attended kindergarten and first grade. Billy, as he was known then, loved to play with his electric train in the spare bedroom of the house. He was also a familiar sight in the neighborhood dressed as a cowboy. The family moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1953.

Boyhood Home, Hot Springs, Arkansas
William Jefferson Clinton moved to Hot Springs when he was a second grader from his birthplace in Hope, Arkansas, with his mother, Virginia Kelley and his stepfather Roger Clinton. Virginia married Hot Springs native Roger Clinton in 1950, and later Bill took the surname that he carries today. Young Bill’s father, William Jefferson Blythe III, had been killed in an automobile accident before Bill was born, so Virginia carried the responsibility of raising him as a single mother. They resided here from 1954 until 1961 when the family, including his German Shepherd, moved to his new home on Scully. In his youth, the President was responsible for yard upkeep on both the family homes.

While in Hot Springs, Bill enrolled in St. John’s Catholic School. Even then the nuns recognized in the boy a spark that led them to predict that he was one day “going to be president.” Bill Clinton credits the outstanding teachers of the Hot Springs schools with having an important influence on his life, and many of them have been ardent campaigners in his behalf as his political star was rising. Friends from those days still recall that young Clinton became personal friends with many of his teachers and credits them with helping form his lifelong commitment to education reform.

Bill Clinton, once enrolled in the Hot Springs Public Schools, attended Ramble Elementary School, where he began acquiring the education and leadership experiences that helped instill in him the qualities that have led him to political success.

At Hot Springs High School, Bill Clinton was an active student politician as well as a leader in the school’s activities. He was Band Major and was active in the Beta Club, National Honor Society and chorus. He also was active in the Hot Springs Key Club and the Order of DeMolay. He became an all-state saxophone player during that time, a talent he gleefully displayed on television shows such as “The Tonight Show” and “The Arsenio Hall Show.”

In 1963 he was a Hot Springs High School delegate to Boys State, where he was elected as Arkansas’ delegate to Boys Nation. While attending Boys Nation in Washington, D.C., Mr. Clinton had an experience that set him on the road to political greatness: He shook hands with President John F. Kennedy. A photograph of that meeting, only four months before President Kennedy was assassinated, is one of President Clinton’s proudest possessions.