FDR Home & Presidential Library
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.
In 1915, Franklin and his mother added
a tower on the right and large fieldstone wings, replaced
the clapboard exterior with stucco, raised the pitched
roof to create a flat-roofed third story, and replaced
most of the porch with a large fieldstone terrace with
balustrade and a small columned portico. Franklin also
planted many varieties of trees on the grounds, eventually
turning large sections of the estate into an experimental
forestry station. Some of his work is still in evidence.
house, too, retains his stamp. Four times he stood on
the terrace on election nights to greet well-wishers.
When he was there, he conducted the business of the
presidency from his office. In the main hall are his
boyhood collection of stuffed birds and a bronze sculpture
of him in 1911 when he was 29 and serving his first
term in the New York State Senate.
Formal entertaining took place in
the Dresden Room and Dining Room, while the family liked
to gather in the more casual Living Room/Library. Here,
too, Roosevelt could pursue his hobbies, poring over
his stamp collection or building ship models. Upstairs
is the Birth Room, with the bed in which he was born,
and his Boyhood Bedroom, later used by each of his sons
Prime Minister Winston Churchill and
King George VI, among other notables, stayed in other
rooms off the same hall. The bedroom he used as President
remains as it was during his last stay in March 1945,
shortly before his death, with the magazines and books
he was reading just as he left them. He loved this room,
partly because of the beautiful view across the south
lawn and down the Hudson River.
Both Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt
are buried at Springwood, in the hemlock walled Rose
From birth, Franklin Roosevelt
was one of a tight-knit clan that valued tradition and
continuity. A major player in the events of the 20th century
and a man whose life was turned upside down by personal
tragedy, Roosevelt was sustained by constants: a large
family, old friends, and the house and grounds of Springwood.
Franklin's father James, who bought the house in 1867,
was seventh in a line of Roosevelts who were prominent
members of New York City society. The Roosevelts had ties
to the Hudson River Valley dating back to the 17th century,
but it was not until 1818 that Franklin Roosevelt's great
grandfather moved to the Hyde Park area. They were wealthy,
though not on a scale with the neighboring Vanderbilts.
In any case, James Roosevelt disapproved of ostentation,
and Springwood was modest compared to many of the estates
that lined the Hudson above New York City.
Like other families of their class,
the Roosevelts spent the winter social season in New
York City. They also owned a summer house on the Canadian
island of Campobello, but Springwood was home. While
James was a careful manager of his inherited wealth,
making money was not the center of his life. He preferred
to live the life of an English country squire---seeing
to his horses and cattle, hunting, fishing, iceboating,
and riding on the grounds. Sara shared James' affection
for the place, declaring that the Roosevelts and other
Hudson Valley gentry were "living life as it should
be." To young Franklin, whose father passed on to him
his love for the outdoors, the estate's woods and fields
were paradise. Springwood remained the center of his
life until he left for boarding school at 14. In his
later years Franklin reminisced about his childhood
there: "In thinking back to my earliest days, I am impressed
by the peacefulness and regularity of things both in
respect to place and people."
After James Roosevelt died in 1900
Sara and Franklin, then a freshman at Harvard, continued
to live in the house. When he married Eleanor Roosevelt
in 1905, the young couple moved in with Sara, in whose
name the house remained until her death in 1941. Franklin's
work and political career required that the family live
elsewhere for long periods, but they returned to Springwood
whenever possible. During his years as Governor of New
York and President, Springwood was the nucleus of his
life and career. It was haven and political headquarters,
and it was here that he entertained numerous dignitaries.
Throughout his presidency he returned some 200 times
for temporary respite from Washington and for the nourishment
Springwood gave him. By 1944, though, ill and weary
from the intensity of the war effort, there was a note
of finality when he said: "All that is within me cries
out to go back to my home on the Hudson River."
Franklin 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. The Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt
National Historic Site and Library, which contains 290
acres, is administered by the National Park Service,
US Department of the Interior.
The home may be visited by guided tour only. Tickets
may be purchased at the kiosk adjacent to the parking
lot. The grounds are open from 8AM until dusk daily,
and are open to the public. There is a network of hiking
and walking trails that lead from the upper level, where
the house is sited, down to the river.
Please walk on the designated paths.
Do not approach or attempt to feed any wildlife; cases
of rabies have been reported in the area. There are
poisonous snakes and plants. Ticks carrying Lyme disease
have been found in Dutchess County.
Only the first floor of the home is
accessible to the physically impaired. An album of photographs
of the second floor is available. Accessible restrooms
are available nearby. Signing or other special accommodations
may be possible with advance arrangements.
Started during his presidency, the
FDR Museum & Library houses the Presidential Records
and Papers and is available to scholars for research
and study. The public is invited to visit the Museum
which contains extensive displays on the lives and careers
of both Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. Many important
documents and memorabilia are on display in exciting
interactive exhibits. There are several galleries filled
with mementos, paintings and artifacts of these two
important public people.
The Museum is open daily from 9am
till 6pm, closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's.
The research library is open Monday to Friday from 9am
The Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt
National Historic Site and Library are located on Route
9, just south of the center of the village of Hyde Park.