Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site

Audio Available:

Quick Overview

This is the audio only described version of the park’s official print brochure. This brochure covers the importance of Springwood as the home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, our country's 32nd president. Side one provides a history of the house and grounds and relays the inspirational role of Springwood in FDR's development from childhood, to recovering from polio, and even through a great depression and world war. Accompanying the home's narrative are about a dozen photos providing a glimpse into FDR's family life and interests. A timeline highlights key dates and events of FDR's personal and professional life including his presidency. Side two includes text and an illustrated map that provides a view of the grounds from above for orientation. 

↑ back to top

Quotes

In addition to a biography and timeline, three quotes are interspersed on side one of the brochure.  They are:

  1. “Life here had always had healing quality for him.” —Eleanor Roosevelt. 
  2. "I am pure Hudson River" - FDR, 1944. 
  3. "The River must be lovely now and I wish I could be there." -- Letter to parents 

↑ back to top

Text: The Life and Times of FDR

“My heart has always been here. It always will be.” With these few words President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) captured his feelings for his home in Hyde Park as he addressed friends and neighbors gathered in front of the house on election night in 1940. His love of the place where he was born and raised prompted him to begin the process in 1943 of deeding his home to the National Park Service, ensuring that it would be available to future generations. 

Franklin’s father, James Roosevelt, purchased the 110-acre estate in 1867 for $40,000. The property included a house overlooking the Hudson River and a working farm. FDR was born in this house on January 30, 1882, the only child of Sara and James Roosevelt. Growing up with a view of the majestic Hudson River, he developed a love of the river and the valley through which it flowed. By age eight, he was sailing the Hudson. As a young adult, racing his ice yacht “Hawk” was a favorite winter pastime.  

Franklin accompanied his father on daily horseback rides. During these times he became immersed in the land, its history, and particularly the trees. In later years, he expanded his parents’ land holdings to nearly 1,500 acres and planted over half a million trees. His interest in tree farming translated into a New Deal program, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The CCC provided jobs to unemployed men age 17-28. Over 10 years, enrollees planted over three billion trees and built over 800 parks nationwide.

Surrounded by the rich agricultural heritage of the Hudson Valley all his life, FDR felt a strong affinity with farmers. One of the first New Deal programs instituted during the Great Depression, the Agricultural Adjustment Act, was designed to help farmers retain their land. His subsistence homestead projects relocated poverty-stricken families into government subsidized rural communities that provided decent housing, cooperative work and farming, and schools. 

When Franklin Roosevelt married Eleanor Roosevelt in 1905, they resided in both the house at Hyde Park and their New York townhouse. Franklin and Eleanor had six children, one died in infancy. FDR supervised the expansion and redesign of the house to accommodate his growing family and his political ambitions, ensuring it reflected the Dutch Colonial architecture of the Hudson Valley. 

FDR contracted polio in 1921 and was paralyzed from the waist down. He held out hope for a cure, but was never able to walk again unaided. The multi-level home was adapted to his needs with ramps along short steps. The trunk lift, installed years before the onset of FDR’s polio, became his transportation to the second floor.  

In 1932 FDR was elected to the first of an unprecedented four terms as President of the United States. His presidency redefined the role of government in America, establishing programs designed to improve the lives of all Americans. These programs included Social Security, the Federal Deposit and Insurance Corporation, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the establishment of minimum wage, and unemployment insurance.

During his 12 years as President, FDR led the nation through an economic crisis of enormous proportions and the Second World War. He continually returned to this home he loved, seeking strength and relaxation. He entertained foreign dignitaries here, including British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. In the small study, FDR and Churchill initialed a document known as the “Hyde Park Aide Memoire,” that outlined possible future uses of the atomic bomb.

On the afternoon of April 12, 1945, FDR died from a cerebral hemorrhage in Warm Springs, Georgia. He was laid to rest on April 15 in the rose garden here. One year after his death, on April 12, 1946, the home opened to the public. At the dedication Eleanor Roosevelt said, “I think Franklin realized that . . . people . . . would understand the rest and peace and strength which he had gained here and perhaps . . . go away with some sense of healing and courage themselves.” 

" I am pure Hudson River" —FDR, 1944

↑ back to top

Timeline: The Life and Times of FDR

The following 33 points make up the timeline of FDR’s life starting in 1882 and ending in 1945.

  1. 1882: Born Jan. 30 to James Roosevelt and Sara (Delano) Roosevelt in their Hyde Park, NY family home. 
  2. 1900: Graduates from Groton Preparatory School. 
  3. 1903: Graduates from Harvard College. 
  4. 1904: Starts Columbia University Law School. 
  5. 1905: Marries Eleanor Roosevelt (ER), in New York City; ER’s uncle, President Theodore Roosevelt, gives her away. 
  6. 1906: ER gives birth to their first child, a daughter; five sons born over next 10 years; one dies in infancy. 
  7. 1907: Admitted to NY Bar Association; clerks in a NYC law firm. 
  8. 1910: Elected to first of two terms in New York State Senate; re-elected 1912. 
  9. 1913: President Woodrow Wilson names FDR Assistant Secretary of the Navy. 
  10. 1914: Loses Democratic primary for US Senate seat; World War I starts. 
  11. 1918: Tours American bases in Europe; ER discovers FDR’s affair with her social secretary, Lucy Mercer. 
  12. 1920: Resigns Navy post; loses election as Democratic candidate for vice president. 
  13. 1921: Returns to law work; stricken with polio at Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada; never again walks unaided; ER cares for him. 
  14. 1923: Delegate to NYS Democratic Convention. 
  15. 1924: Nominates NY Gov. Alfred E. Smith for president at Democratic National Convention; first visit to curative waters at Warm Springs, GA. 
  16. 1925: Oversees construction of Val-Kill Cottage (now Stone Cottage) for ER and friends Marion Dickerman and Nancy Cook; the three start Val-Kill Industries in 1927 to create skilled crafts jobs in slack farm season to help stem the flight of rural youth to cities.  
  17. 1926: First book, Whither Bound, published.  
  18. 1927: Forms Georgia Warm Springs Foundation, a therapy center for polio patients.  
  19. 1928: Elected NYS governor.  
  20. 1929: NY Stock Exchange crash triggers Great Depression in US; advocates state-built and -owned dams and power plants; first radio address attacks Republican Party failures; visits state prison after riot, orders investigation of NY prisons.  
  21. 1930: Seeks better laws for running prisons and to create a full-time parole board; wins re-election as governor.  
  22. 1931: Seeks revised Old Age Pension Law based on employee contributions; Louis M. Howe and James A. Farley form “Friends of Roosevelt” to promote FDR for president; seeks “scientific unemployment insurance;” recommends a Temporary Emergency Relief Administration and work relief program; seeks votes for funds to reforest sub-marginal farmland.  
  23. 1932: Seeks to halt unsound banking practices; seeks laws to reform securities sales; gives “forgotten man” speech to Governors’ Conference; as Democratic nominee for president, FDR pledges “a new deal for the American people”; elected 32nd US president.  
  24. 1933: Assassination attempt fails; inaugurated president, tells nation “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself;” calls special session of Congress the next day and proclaims bank holiday; launches New Deal with 15 new laws to relieve Great Depression; first of 29 radio Fireside Chats.  
  25. 1935: Continues New Deal; signs Social Security Act; sets up National Labor Relations Board and Rural Electrification Administration.  
  26. 1936: Elected to second term.  
  27. 1938: Starts March of Dimes campaign to fight polio; signs Fair Labor Standards Act setting minimum wages and maximum hours.  
  28. 1939: FDR and ER host Great Britain’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth for first US state visit by British royalty; treats them to Top Cottage hotdog picnic in Hyde Park.  
  29. 1940: Elected to an unprecedented third term.  
  30. 1941: State of the Union Address enunciates the Four Freedoms: of speech and of worship, and from want and from fear; meets British Prime Minister Winston Churchill aboard ship in “Atlantic Conference” on joint war aims, the first of 12 Allied wartime conferences; Japan bombs Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, “a date which will live in infamy.”  
  31. 1942: Signs United Nations (UN) Declaration Jan. 1, commits US to defeat of Axis powers; 45 other nations sign, in effect founding modern UN; announces intent to try as war criminals ringleaders for the organized murder of Jews and other victims of the Holocaust; signs Executive Order 9066 sending 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry to relocation and/or internment camps.  
  32. 1944: Sets up War Refugee Board to help those fleeing Nazi persecution in Europe; radio address announces start of Allied invasion of Europe; offers D-Day prayer for success and protection of soldiers.  
  33. 1945: Inaugurated to fourth term in White House wartime ceremony; meets Churchill and the USSR’s Joseph Stalin for Yalta Conference to negotiate Europe’s postwar future; dies in Warm Springs, GA, April 12; buried in Rose Garden here; President Truman appoints ER to US delegation to United Nations.  


↑ back to top

Photos: Overview

Throughout side one of the brochure are primarily sepia-toned historic photographs from FDR's life over the years, including those of his home, family, and personal interests. The photos are described under their own sections.  

↑ back to top

Photo: FDR and His Home

Caption: FDR enjoys driving on his property when at home.

Description: As quoted in the brochure, FDR said that "My heart has always been here. It always will be." On the front folded cover of this brochure are four images combined to make up one collage.

Presented in the middle of the overall image is the exterior of Springwood, FDR’s family's home. Springwood is an Italianate-style house which has been added onto several times. Three stories are visible. The main center section of the house is a greyish brown stucco. The fieldstone wings on either side are reminiscent of earlier days on the Hudson when Franklin's Dutch ancestors first settled here. All of the white, rectangular multi-paned windows have green open shutters. The front entrance of the house has a covered roof supported by a half circle of columns leading to the front door. To get there you must walk up several steps in the center of the raised landing that goes across the front of the house. The third floor has two small circular windows on either side of a domed window. All have decorative molding above them reminiscent of a fabric swag that might be placed above interior windows as a part of their curtain dressing. The front outside landing and the semi-circular roof above the entrance have decorative white railings and posts.

A blue sky is the backdrop of the house. Placed over the sky is the signature of FDR with small lowercase letters and much grander large letters emphasizing the “F” and “R.” At the very end of the signature is a faint black and white photo of FDR. He is seated and angled to the left looking in the same direction. He wears a suit and tie and holds a piece of paper in his hands resting on his lap.

Below the Springwood house is a portion of the curved road that leads to its front entrance. On top of the road is another color image of FDR. He sits in his Ford roadster that was designed for him to drive through the country road of his estate.The car has no roof. FDR wears a suit and tie. His left arm dangles partially over the door with his hand on the wheel. While the car is in profile, FDR is turned toward his left looking directly at us with a partial smile.

Credit: Springwood Photo NPS

↑ back to top

Photo: FDR and Dogs Outdoors in Winter

Caption: FDR on his bobsled with ”Tip” and another dog.

Description: FDR as a young teenager sits on a wooden bob sled with one dog under his arm resting in his lap. A dog named "Tip" is sitting on the snow-covered ground on his left side. FDR’s left hand is resting on the back of Tip’s head. The trees are bare. In addition to the ground, the fieldstone fence behind him is covered in snow. This photo is in the middle of the brochure on the left side.

Credit: FDR Presidential Library

↑ back to top

Photo: Inauguration Day Parade Drive

Caption: FDR and Eleanor

Description: During the inauguration day parade, Franklin and Eleanor sit in an open car bundled in heavy dark coats. At the center of the photo is Franklin, who waves his top hat in the air. Eleanor is to his left. She leans up against him smiling with a feather in her hat. Three secret service men wearing fedoras walk alongside Eleanor's side of the car in the background as they make their way past the leafless trees of Washington D.C. This photo is in the top right portion of the brochure.

Credit: FDR Presidential Library

↑ back to top

Photo: FDR Riding a Horse with His Mother and Father

Caption: Young FDR rides with his father while his mother holds the hound.

Description: Horseback riding was a very common hobby for the Roosevelts. The three Roosevelts and their pets pose perfectly for this outdoor family photo on the lawn just south of their Italianate style home, which can be seen in the background. FDR is a boy. He is in profile sitting atop his well-groomed pony "Debbie." He wears a white riding jacket and pants. In front of him and also in profile is his elderly father Mr. James Roosevelt. He has white sideburns. He holds a riding crop in his right hand and sits on his horse "Bobby." Sara Delano Roosevelt is to the side and in front of James Roosevelt. She faces forward and holds the leash attached to a dog which stands in front of her. She wears a long dress, gloves, and hat indicative of the Edwardian era style. This photo is in the middle of the brochure second from the left.

Credit: FDR Presidential Library

↑ back to top

Photo: FDR Knitting

Caption: FDR's knitting seems to amuse Eleanor

Description: Eleanor and Franklin sit on a porch landing with the feet on the steps below. Eleanor wears a long white dress with a long string of dark beads hanging from her neck. Her outstretched hands are placed together and resting in her lap. Her head is tilted slightly downwards and she has a close-lipped faint smile.  Franklin sits on Eleanor’s left. He holds knitting needles with a small rectangular piece of knitted yarn attached to them. He is dressed in a dark suit with a white shirt, tall stiff collar and dark tie. He looks slightly more serious as he stares at us. This photo is in the middle of the brochure.

Credit: FDR Presidential Library

↑ back to top

Photo: FDR Sailing

Caption: FDR sails his ice yacht "Hawk."

Description: In the wintertime, FDR took advantage of the frozen Hudson River to sail on his ice yacht "Hawk," which had been a gift from his mother in 1901. Here he sits with the tiller in his hand and the 750 square foot sail catching a breeze on the icy Hudson. The yacht has three large ice skates, two that are stationary in the front and one at the back which moves with the push of the tiller. This photo is in the middle section of the brochure on the right.

Credit: FDR Presidential Library

↑ back to top

Photo: FDR Standing Portrait

Caption: FDR poses on his property

Description: FDR stands in the driveway of the family home. He is tall and thin and looks directly at us. A cigarette hangs from his lips. His left leg is straight and his right leg is slightly bent forward. His hands are in his pants pockets pushing his dress coat open and revealing his expensive watch chain hanging across his vest. Tall evergreens are behind him and the top of the ice house is in the distance. This photo is in the middle section of the brochure on the right.

Credit: FDR Presidential Library

↑ back to top

Photo: Family Photo with FDR

Caption: Left to right: Sara, FDR, Sistie, Anna, and Buzzie at Springwood.

Description: Taken in the early 1930s, the group is seated outside in wicker chairs. FDR ‘s mother Sara sits to the right of FDR, her granddaughter Anna and great-grandchildren. FDR has his granddaughter Sistie on his knee. Anna sits to FDR’s left with her son Buzzie on her knee. Sara, now in her old age, wears a flower print dress. Franklin wears a light suit and tie. Anna and her children wear white summer dresses. The front porch banister of Springwood is behind them. They smile as they pose for the photo. This photo is in the middle section of the brochure on the far right.

Credit: FDR Presidential Library

↑ back to top

Photo: Entertaining at Springwood

Caption: Entertaining at Springwood. Left to right: Eleanor, Amelia Earhart, Jim and Amy Mollison, and FDR.

Description: When the Roosevelts came home to Springwood they entertained all sorts of people. On this summer day, they stand outdoors with this group of famous aviators. Franklin is dressed in a light suit and tie. He uses the banister of the front porch to lean against for support. Eleanor towers over the group in her long white dress and sensible shoes. Amelia also wears a white dress and even with her heels she cannot quite reach Eleanor's height. Jim and Amy are dressed in dark attire, suit, and dress respectively. Behind them, lush vines climb up the side of the house and a palm tree stretches out behind Franklin on the lawn. This photo is at the bottom of the brochure on the left.

Credit: FDR Presidential Library

↑ back to top

Photos: FDR’s Federal Programs

Caption: Programs during Roosevelt's administration gave the American people the dignity of work and hope.  

Description: Five photos are combined at the bottom right of the brochure to create this compilation of images that tell the story of the challenges people faced and the programs and progress FDR created during his presidential terms. FDR is at the center of this compilation of images. His image is larger than the four other that are in the background behind him.

He wears a suit and tie. His body is angled left. He looks over his right shoulder with concentrated focus on something in the distance. Behind him, on the far left is photograph depicting the dust bowl era. A man and two children walk outside on the dusty barren ground with a single story wooden frame house behind them. To the right, a farmer is bent over working the ground of dirt and grass. To the right and behind him, men install an electrical pole with wires. Some men are on the ground, while two are up high on the pole. At the far right women build a fighter plane for during World War II.

Credit: FDR Presidential Library

↑ back to top

Side Two Text: Park Information

Side two of the brochure contains information about visiting the park, including a cauition alert message. This text follows. Two two maps are described under their own sections.


↑ back to top

Map: The Park Grounds

Description: This color, photo realistic map covers the entire side of the brochure. Text and a smaller map are centered at the bottom over this map image.

From above, we look down and at an angle on the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, the presidential library and surrounding landscape. At the top of the map travelling from the left to just past center on the right is the Hudson River followed by a thick treeline in its full range of fall foliage colors of reds, oranges, and yellows. On the other side of the treeline is the park site and buildings. Trees are interspersed with green lawns and along various roads. Covering the bottom half of the map, more lush green lawns and hay fields take up much of the foreground.

On the far left center of the map is Springwood, Franklin's home on top of a bluff overlooking the forest of trees and the Hudson River. Just to the right of Springwood sits the Coach house and Stables. Continuing right are the greenhouse and Gardener's cottage, which is tucked in the trees behind it. In front of the greenhouse is the Rose garden. In front and slightly to the left of the Rose garden are Franklin and Eleanor's gravesites.

In the center of the map, behind and to right of their gravesites and also to the right of the greenhouse is the Roosevelts' two-acre vegetable garden. In front of the vegetable garden is the Presidential Library and Museum, which is the largest building on the map.

Behind and to the right of the Presidential Library and Museum is the Henry A. Wallace Visitor Center. Just to the right of the Henry A. Wallace Visitor Center are Bellefield, the park’s headquarters, and the main entrance road into the park. Mulitiple parking lots are by the park’s visitor center.

Albany Post Road, which is Route 9, runs along the edge from top to bottom on the far right side of the map.

Map credit: Power Engineers

↑ back to top

Map: Park and Surrounding Area

This rectangular map is located at the bottom center of the brochure. North is pointing up. The Hudson River runs north-south on the far left. On the river’s edge at the top in the north is the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site. South of it by just about a mile is the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site. The Hyde Park Trail, represented by a red dashed line, makes an oblong loop through the Vanderbilt site and then travels south outside of the park and into the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site where it turns to travel west-east through the rest of the park and also through Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, which is connected to the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site on the east side.

Travelling north-south is R 9 on the left side of the map and Route 9G in the center of the map. Rhinebeck is further north past the presented map and Poughkeepsie is further south beyond the map. Travelling east west is route 41, which is north of the park.

The map legend indicates that one inch is equivalent to approximately one mile and three quarters of an inch is about 1 kilometer.

↑ back to top