Franklin Delano Roosevelt 32nd President, 1933-1945

Birthplace & Home, Springwood, Hyde Park, New York
In 1867, 15 years before Franklin Roosevelt was born, his father James Roosevelt bought the house at Springwood. It was a large farmhouse built around 1800, but James, and later Sara and Franklin, transformed it into something grander. The previous owner had already built a three-story tower and a full-length covered porch. James added two rooms, enlarged the servants’ wing, and built a large carriage house for his prized horses and carriages. Franklin also planted many varieties of trees on the grounds, eventually turning large sections of the estate into an experimental forestry station.

Franklin had a lifelong interest in trees, beginning with specimen plantings he made with his father in the 1880s. After 1911, FDR began large scale plantings of his own, later entering into an agreement with the Forestry Department of Syracuse University to use the wood lots at Springwood as an experimental forestry station. Almost half a million trees were planted at Springwood between 1911-45.

FDR took pride in the fact that he could contribute timber to the war effort after 1941. President Roosevelt’s interest in trees, and in conservation in general, played an important part in the creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps, still regarded as one of the most successful New Deal programs.

The cluttered Living Room and Library reflects the eclectic decorating style of FDR and his mother Sara. A melange of family heirlooms, European and Oriental antiques and American department store furnishings created an impressive yet comfortable room. FDR spent countless hours at his corner desk working with his stamps, rigging a model ship or pursuing a newly acquired rare book. His collections were impressive: a personal library of 14,000 volumes; more than 2,000 naval paintings, prints and lithographs; more than 200 model ships; 1.2 million stamps; more than 300 mounted bird specimens and thousands of coins, banknotes, campaign buttons and medallions.

President Roosevelt donated his home and 33 acres to the American people in 1943, on the condition that his family be allowed to use it after his death. It was transferred to the Department of the Interior on November 21, 1945, after the family relinquished their lifetime rights.

Home, Campobello, New Brunswick, Canada
During the 1880′s, wealthy people had extensive leisure time and the means to enjoy it. It was the age of long summer vacations and great resorts. Visitors had been coming to Campobello to enjoy the island’s charms since 1855; however, it wasn’t until a group of Boston and New York businessmen bought most to the island in 1881 that the summer trade really prospered.

Among the families that came to Campobello during the resort era was that of James Roosevelt. James, his wife Sara, and one year old son Franklin Delano Roosevelt first visited the island in 1883. That same year, James purchased a partially completed house and 1.6-hectares (4 acres) of land. The house was completed by the summer of 1885 and the Roosevelts became summer residents. The site of James’ and Sara’s cottage (no longer standing) is just north of the actual FDR summer cottage, which Sara purchased in 1909 and later left to Franklin.

From 1883, when Franklin was one year old, until he was stricken by polio in 1921, he spent most of his summers on this rugged and beautiful island on Passamaquoddy Bay. As a young father, he found that his family enjoyed Campobello and it became customary to spend July, August, and part of September there. Over the summers, the energetic, athletic father taught his children sailing and many other pastimes he had learned there during his childhood. He organized hiking expeditions along the cliffs and thrilled the children with games of hare-and-hounds and paper chases. Campobello became as much a part of the lives of his five children as it had been of his.

The Roosevelt Campobello International Park Commission was established on January 22, 1964 by an international agreement signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson of the United States and Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson of Canada. The agreement established the Park as a unique memorial to the close and neighborly relations between the peoples of Canada and the United States of America. Both governments recognized the important role Franklin D. Roosevelt had played in their mutual histories and the many intimate associations of President Roosevelt with his summer home on Campobello. Within the 1,134-hectare (2,800 acre) Roosevelt Campobello International Park are the cottage and the grounds where Franklin Roosevelt vacationed and the woods, bogs, and beaches where he tramped. Just offshore are the waters where he sailed and relaxed.

Home, Washington, DC
In 1913, when Woodrow Wilson appointed him Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt moved to Washington, DC where they rented Auntie Bye’s home at 1733 N Street, NW. In autumn 1917, they rented this larger home at 2131 R Street, NW and lived there until 1920, when FDR unsuccessfully ran for Vice President. The house has seventeen rooms and six and a half baths. During the Roosevelt Administration, the Roosevelts frequently visited their old neighborhood and attended St. Thomas Episcopal Church at 18th and Church Streets in Washington, DC. Today, this house is part of the Milanese Embassy.

Home, The Little White House, Warm Springs, Georgia
Franklin D. Roosevelt came to Warm Springs in 1924 in hopes of recovering from the effects of polio. His love for the area and hopes for the Warm Springs foundation led him to build a small white clapboard cottage on these pine-scented slopes. He chose a site on the north slope of Pine Mountain overlooking a wooded ravine for his modest, one-story vacation home. He requested that the natural setting be preserved. The house was completed in 1932 while FDR was serving as Governor of New York. During FDRs four elected terms as the 32nd President the cottage became known as “The Little White House.” It was designed by architect Henry Toombs who also designed many of the Foundation buildings. The cost was $8,738 including landscaping. The cottage, garage, servants quarters and guest home are preserved much like they were on April 12, 1945 when FDR died of a massive stroke as he was sitting for a portrait. The “Unfinished Portrait” and many of FDRs personal belongings can be seen in the cottage and in an adjacent museum.

During the busy years between 1932 and 1945 FDR only visited his beloved Little White House on 16 occasions while he and the nation struggled through the Great Depression of 1929 and then World War II. Many of the solutions to the “people problems” that beset the nation during his presidency came to FDR as the result of his association with the people of this area.

Library & Museum, Hyde Park, New York
As Franklin Roosevelt neared the end of his second term, he began thinking about the disposition of his papers. Earlier presidents had taken their papers with them when they left office, or deposited them in an existing library. Roosevelt planned a new library for his, where they could be better protected and made accessible to scholars. Besides housing the official papers, which became part of the National Archives Systems, Roosevelt wanted the library to preserve some of his books, his mementos of office, and his extensive collection of naval prints, paintings and models. He also reserved one room for his study. Roosevelt was closely involved in the project: He donated with his wife Eleanor Roosevelt, 16 acres of the Springwood estate; designed the stone Dutch colonial building; and even helped to place the initial exhibits. Built by private subscription, the building was completed and turned over to the government in 1940. The museum was opened the following year and the archives in 1946. After Roosevelt was reelected to third term and fourth terms, the study became his office away from the White House, the scene of conferences with world leaders and four of his fireside chats. This was the only presidential library that was used by a sitting president. After his death the library continued to grow. Two wings originally designed by Roosevelt were added in 1972 to house enlarged research facilities and a gallery devoted to the life of Eleanor Roosevelt. In addition to its 44,000 books, the library holds large collections of manuscripts, photographs, recordings and film. Among the thousands of items on display in the museum are Roosevelt’s cradle and his white house desk and chair. The library is administered separately by the National Archives and Records Administration.

Gravesite, Rose Garden, Hyde Park, New York
Franklin Roosevelt would not live to see the war’s end. During World War II, FDR did not make many public appearances. During his 1944 campaign for reelection, he appeared weak and unhealthy, but hid his condition from the American people. Roosevelt’s election victory over Thomas E. Dewey that year, in addition to the Yalta Conference, put the president under immense strain.

In April 1945, he traveled to Warm Springs, Georgia. FDR had purchased a rustic resort in Warm Springs, where the curative waters had helped him rehabilitating after contracting polio. Over the years, this destination served as a frequent retreat for the president. On April 12, while sitting for a portrait, he collapsed and died of a cerebral hemorrhage. Vice President Harry Truman took the oath of office that same day.

The death stunned everyone. Roosevelt had been president for a dozen years. The dominant American of the 20th century was buried at his childhood home in Hyde Park, scant weeks before the German surrender.

FDR was 63 years old when he died. His death came on the eve of complete military victory in Europe and within months of victory over Japan in the Pacific. He was buried in the hemlock-walled Rose Garden of his Springwood estate at Hyde Park, New York. Eleanor was buried beside him in 1962.

Memorial, Washington, DC
In August 1955, ten years after FDR’s death, Congress established a commission to create a memorial to Roosevelt, the 32nd U.S. president. Four years later, a location for the memorial was found. The memorial was to be located half way between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, along the Tidal Basin.

Though several design competitions were held over the years, it wasn’t until 1978 that a design was chosen. The commission chose Lawrence Halprin’s memorial design, a 7.5-acre memorial that represented both President Roosevelt and his era. With only a few changes, Halprin’s design was built. Unlike the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, which are compact, covered and focused on a single statue of each president, the FDR memorial is vast, uncovered, and focused on numerous statues, quotes, and waterfalls. Halprin’s design honors FDR by telling the story of the president and the country in a chronological order. Since Roosevelt was elected to four terms of office, Halprin created four “rooms” to represent the twelve years of Roosevelt’s presidency. The rooms, however, are not easily defined and the memorial is more accurately described as a long, meandering path, bordered by walls made of red South Dakota granite.

Since FDR brought the United States through the Great Depression and World War II, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, dedicated on May 2, 1997, now stands as a reminder of some of America’s tougher times.