The Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site, located at the Wilcox House where Roosevelt was sworn in as President in 1901, holds Vintage Game Nights the fifth Tuesday of every month that has five Tuesdays. The most recent one was April 30th, and their next is July 30th.
These Vintage Game Nights feature a huge variety of games to choose from, including board, card, and parlor games from the late 1800s and early 1900s. Being able to play these sorts of games is a tremendous opportunity. Some of these games were played by Theodore Roosevelt and members of the Wilcox family, and some are based on events from TR’s life. Other games playable at Vintage Game Nights were simply popular at the time of his presidency. They have historical importance because of their relation to Roosevelt, but it’s also interesting to think about how some of these games were most likely precursors to games we play today. Would we have games like “Settlers of Catan” or “Munchkin” if it weren’t for these older games? As a huge tabletop gaming fan, I find this extremely interesting. The TR Inaugural Site’s Vintage Game Nights allow a history lesson in the form of exciting games.
Some of the games featured during the Vintage Game Nights include cribbage (TR was an aficionado of the game), backgammon (TR wrote about in his diary), ‘big stick puzzle’ (inspired by TR’s trust-busting efforts), and many more. While at the recent Vintage Game Night, I tried out the ‘big stick puzzle’, but I was unfortunately not able to wrap my head around how to send all of the Trust pieces into the prison squares. It’s a lot tougher than it looks. I also tried my hand at the team-based card game ‘whist’, which used some pretty intense mind games.
The main game being featured that Game Night was ‘Jungles, The Great Hunting Card Game’. Demonstrations were held to showcase the game and to teach everyone who was in attendance. ‘Jungles’ is a card game featuring animals, people, and places from Roosevelt’s post-presidency African Safari. It involves being the first person to shout the names of the animals when they are played or “BANG!” when a hunter is revealed. It’s very fast-paced, exciting, and a bit on the silly side. I could see this being a very popular parlor game played in the early 1900s with a lot of alcohol to get everyone in the shouting mood.
The atmosphere of the Vintage Game Night is perfect. Don’t worry about not knowing any of the games. They help you learn whichever ones pique your interest. Each game appears simple to learn for even the most casual of board game player, but are all extremely fun at the same time. The crowd is big enough to have multiple games going at once, but small enough so that there is still plenty of space. Everyone at Vintage Game Night was extraordinarily friendly. If you wish to join in on the next game or are having trouble understanding rules, simply ask. It is truly a great community.
At each Vintage Game Night, there are snacks and drinks available. The snacks are free, and one free drink is included with the ticket purchase. All the snacks chosen were released during TR’s presidency or vice presidency, like Hershey’s Kisses and Chiclets. Remember, this is at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site after all, which is certainly an interesting perspective – everything is strung together as a fun history lesson.
These Vintage Game Nights are a must for history buffs and gamers alike. They are held at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site on every fifth Tuesday from 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM, and are co-sponsored by the Flying Bison Brewing Company. Admission is $10 per person or $5 for TR Site members. If you want to know more about the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site, you can visit their website. You can also see updates on their Facebook page.
Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site | 641 Delaware Ave, Buffalo, NY 14202