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IMPROVEMENTS PLANNED AT VAN BUREN ESTATE

The National Park Service plans to make improvements to the former estate of Martin Van Buren, the eighth U.S. president.

Lindenwald, the 32-room Columbia County mansion once occupied by Van Buren, will be fitted with new heating, drainage and fire prevention systems.

The park service also is considering expanding the 38-acre historic site to cover most of the 226 acres that once made up Van Buren's farm, officials said. Van Buren, a Kinderhook native, bought the place in 1839, two years into his one-term presidency.

Van Buren, the first president to be born a U.S. citizen, was known as a shrewd politician and played a major role in the formation of the Democratic Party, which he imagined as a coalition of "planters of the South and the plain people of the North."

After a career that included stints as New York governor and vice president under Andrew Jackson, he was elected to the White House in 1836.

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