WASHINGTON – President Reagan moved around a lot in his youth, but he said he always considered his Dixon, Ill., residence his real home. Now that home has been turned into a national historic site.
President Bush signed legislation on Wednesday, Reagan's 91st birthday, turning the home into a federal site under National Park Service jurisdiction. The law enables the Interior Department to buy the home from its current owner, the privately funded Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home Foundation.
The foundation will continue to manage and operate the site.
The birthday present also comes as the 40th president earns the title of longest living U.S. president in history. Prior to that, America's second president John Adams, had owned the title. He died when he was 90 and 247 days.
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed a resolution to honor the president's 91st birthday.
"When he was president of United States, he was villified regularly," said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif. "But it was his principle and his character that strengthened the day for this country, so God bless you, Ronald Reagan."
House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., the sponsor, was in the Oval Office with Bush for the bill signing. The home is in Hastert's district.
Hastert fought attempts by lawmakers, the Bush administration and the National Park Service to delay action on the bill until an Interior Department study was completed. In October, a House committee rejected an amendment by Rep. Joel Hefley, R-Colo., to require the study.
Hefley had criticized the effort to designate the site as a national park unit "without study by the park service or indeed any real idea of what the park service's role in this will be."
Reagan lived in the home between the ages of 9 and 12.
He now lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Nancy, and has rarely been seen in public since announcing in 1994 that he has Alzheimer's.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.