Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site
Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt
National Historic Site
Front elevation of house, with visitors, in 2004
|Location||Hyde Park, NY|
|Area||800 acres (3.24 km²)|
|Architectural style||Federal, Italianate|
|Governing body||National Park Service|
|NRHP Reference #||66000056|
|Added to NRHP||October 15, 1966|
|Designated NHS||January 15, 1944|
The Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site preserves the Springwood estate in Hyde Park, New York. Springwood was the birthplace, lifelong home, and burial place of the 32nd President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The National Historic Site was established in 1945.
History of the estate
The land of the Springwood estate was originally part of a land grant (the "Great Nine Partners Patent") which covered the area between the Hudson River in the west and the border of Connecticut in the East. The total area of the grant was about 220 square miles (570 km2) and it was given to a group of nine businessmen from New York City by the English Crown in 1697. To ensure equal access to the river for all partners, the land on the river shore was divided into nine Water Lots. The Springwood estate is located on such a Water Lot, which was granted to a partner in the grant named William Creed.
While the early history of the house on the Springwood estate remains unclear, it is believed that the central portion of the present day house is formed by a large farmhouse which was constructed around the year 1800 in the Federal style. In 1845, the estate was purchased by Josiah Wheeler, a merchant from New York City. Wheeler undertook a remodeling of the house, giving it a then fashionable Italianate style with a three-story tower at the south end as well as front and rear piazzas spanning the entire length of the house. After this remodeling, the house comprised a total of 15 rooms.
The estate, which also comprised about one square mile (2.5 square kilometers) of land at the time, was bought in this condition by Franklin D. Roosevelt's father, James Roosevelt, in 1866 for a price of US$ 40,000 (at a time when a textile worker's earnings were less than a dollar a day). At this time, a stable and a horse track had been built already, which was important to James Roosevelt since he took a great interest in horse breeding. From right after the purchase until his death 34 years later, James Roosevelt had many improvements of the house carried out. He enlarged the servants' wing of the building and added two rooms. He also had a spacious carriage house built in the vicinity.
In 1915, Franklin D. Roosevelt, together with his mother Sara, undertook a final major enlargement and remodeling of the home. This was done in order to accommodate his growing family, but also to create an environment for entertaining his political associates which fitted his ambitions. Roosevelt contributed many ideas for the new design, but since the building work was paid for by his mother Sara, she had to find compromises which also took the financial aspect into account. She commissioned the design work the firm of Hoppin and Koen from New York City. The size of the house was more than doubled by adding two large fieldstone wings (designed by Roosevelt), a tower, and a third story with a flat roof. The clapboard exterior of the house was replaced with stucco and most of the porch was replaced with a fieldstone terrace with a balustrade and a small columned portico around the entrance. These alterations gave the exterior of the house the look of a mansion in Colonial Revival Style. The interior retained much of the layout of the old family home and was designed primarily with housing Roosevelt's growing collections of books, paintings, stamps, and coins. The remodeling work was finished within one year in 1916. Roosevelt also changed the appearance of the surrounding land by extensive planting of trees. Between 1911, when the large scale planting started and Roosevelt's death in 1945, more than 400,000 trees were planted on the estate. Eventually, large portions of the estate were turned into an experimental forestry station under an agreement with the Forestry Department of the Syracuse University.
In 1943, Roosevelt donated the estate to the American people under the condition that his family maintained a life-time right to usage of the property. On November 21, 1945, after the family had relinquished their rights, the estate was transferred to the U.S. Department of the Interior. Since then, the estate has been administered by the National Park Service as a National Historic Site and is open to the public. In 2005, the site covered a total area of more than 3 square kilometers and received 108,611 visitors.
Use by Roosevelt
Roosevelt was born in what was then the second floor tower bedroom at the south end of the house. At the time, it functioned as the master bedroom; the bedroom which he and later his sons used during boyhood is nearby on the same floor. After marrying Eleanor Roosevelt in 1905, the young couple moved in with his mother. The estate remained the center of Roosevelt's life in all stages of his career. During his presidency he made almost 200 visits, although he eventually built Top Cottage nearby as a home of his own, separate from his mother's. The estate functioned as a "Summer White House" where the President hosted his political associates as well as other prominent national and international figures. In June 1939, when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, accompanied by Prime Minister of Canada William Lyon Mackenzie King as minister in attendance, made the first visit of a reigning Canadian monarch to the United States, they were hosted at Springwood. Other guests included Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Winston Churchill, as well as European royalty such as Queen Wilhelmina, Princess Juliana, and Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, and Crown Prince Olaf and Crown Princess Märtha of Norway. Further, Roosevelt used the estate as a retreat for himself and his political associates on the eves of all elections in which he ran for president. When the incoming results indicated that he had won the election, he would go outside onto the front terrace to deliver his victory speech.
Roosevelt made his last visit to Springwood in the last week of March 1945, about two weeks before his death. At his own wish, he was buried near the sundial in the Rose Garden on April 15, 1945. His wife was buried at his side after her death in 1962. Also buried here are Fala, the famous scottish terrier, and Chief, a German Shepherd also owned by FDR.
The walls of the entrance hall are mostly covered with pieces from Roosevelt's collection of paintings. On display are mainly naval paintings as well as some historical cartoons. Specimens from his boyhood collection of birds are also on display as well as a sculpture of him when he was 29. In the corner behind the main staircase is a manually operated trunk elevator, which the disabled president used to move between floors.
Living room and library
This room was the place where Roosevelt worked on his private collections; he accumulated a personal library of approximately 14,000 volumes, over 2,000 naval paintings, prints, and lithographs, over 300 bird specimens, over 200 ship models, 1.2 million stamps, as well as thousands of coins, banknotes, campaign buttons, and medallions.
The music room (also known as the "Dresden Room" for the origin of some of the porcelain) is a formal parlor which contains many Chinese pieces of porcelain and lacquerware. These were acquired when the family of Roosevelt's mother stayed in China, where her father made a fortune in the China trade. Together with the adjacent dining room, this part of the house was the setting for the formal entertaining of guests. A collection of autographed photographs of some of the Roosevelts' more famous guests is kept in the room on the piano.
Bedrooms of Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt
During the enlargement of the house in 1915, a suite of rooms was created for Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt in one of the new wings. Originally, these rooms included a sitting room and two dressing rooms, but after Roosevelt contracted polio in 1921, one of the dressing rooms was converted into a separate bedroom for his wife Eleanor and the sitting room into a bedroom for his mother Sara.
This room was used by Roosevelt's mother, Sara, for beginning her day and conducting her business of running the household. The room was created in its present form during the extensive remodeling of 1915 by a division of the old South Parlor into a gallery and the Snuggery. Because most of the furniture of the old parlor was retained despite the reduction in size, the Snuggery has a cluttered appearance.
- http://www.nber.org/chapters/c2486.pdf, page 476
- King, William Lyon Mackenzie, Diary of Mackenzie King, Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada, pp. 377, 413–414, 533–685, 17 May 1939
- Bousfield, Arthur; Toffoli, Gary (1989). Royal Spring: The Royal Tour of 1939 and the Queen Mother in Canada. Toronto: Dundurn Press. pp. 60, 66. ISBN 1-55002-065-X.
- Lanctot, Gustave (1964). Royal Tour of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in Canada and the United States of America 1939. Toronto: E.P. Taylor Foundation.
- King 1939, pp. 247
- Bell, Peter (October 2002), "The Foreign Office and the 1939 Royal Visit to America: Courting the USA in an Era of Isolationism" (PDF), Journal of Contemporary History 37 (4): 603, 611, doi:10.1177/00220094020370040601, retrieved August 30, 2010
- Springwood: birthplace of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Photography by Richard Cheek, text by Franklin D. Mares. Hyde Park Historical Association, Hyde Park, NY, 1993.
- Great Houses of the Hudson River, Michael Middleton Dwyer, editor, with preface by Mark Rockefeller, Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company, published in association with Historic Hudson Valley, 2001. ISBN 082122767X.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Springwood (New York).|
- Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site - National Park Service
- "Springwood: Birthplace and Home to Franklin D. Roosevelt", a National Park Service Teaching with Historic Places lesson plan
- "Life Portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt", broadcast from the home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum from C-SPAN's American Presidents: Life Portraits