Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt – Hyde Park New York
Hyde Park, New York is the home of the Hudson Valley Roosevelts and specifically the thirty-second President of the United States. The Hudson Valley Roosevelts (of Dutch lineage) is differentiated from that which produced Teddy Roosevelt of Sagamore Hill on Long Island, New York.
The Hudson Valley Roosevelts were Democrats, unlike Teddy’s line of Republicans. Teddy was Eleanor’s uncle and second cousin to FDR.
Volumes have been written about Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt so this post will highlight a few notes about the home, Springwood.
Springwood was Roosevelt’s boyhood and adult home. It was here that he recovered from polio and it is here that he, Eleanor and his dog Fala are buried. FDR commissioned his own library, the first presidential library to be built on the property as a home for his papers and memoirs. I suspect that many historians have used those papers in their research of Roosevelt and his time.
During his polio recovery, FDR forced himself to walk from the main house above down the drive to the road and back. His braces were extremely heavy and there were days in which the walk took hours.
Val Kill Cottage – Eleanor Roosevelt
Val Kill Cottage is a National Park dedicated to the life and accomplishments of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Val Kill was originally built as a ‘get away’ for Eleanor and FDR as Springwood was the Roosevelt family home and Sara Roosevelt was the head of the household. Val Kill gave Eleanor the independence she needed as well as a place to pursue and develop ideas for local job creation.
It was at the cottage that Eleanor and her three close friends, Nancy Cook, Marion Dickerman and Caroline O’day created Val-Kill Industries, a small scale factory that employed a handful of local carpenters and artisans during the Great Depression. Val-Kill Industries produced furniture, pewter, and textiles until 1938 when Nancy became ill. In addition, it is rumored that Eleanor and her remaining partners had a bit of a falling out and so, in 1938 Eleanor closed down Val-Kill Industries and converted the factory into a residence that became her home when FDR died in 1945.
After FDR’s death, Eleanor maintained an active political life. President Truman appointed her as the first United State Representative to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Much later, President Kennedy appointed her as First Chair to the Commission on the Status of Women in 1961. Eleanor remained very active in New York politics and until her death was considered the matriarch of the Democratic Party. JFK met with her at Val-Kill to get her endorsement for his presidential candidacy. It is rumored that she did so on the condition that he would support civil and voting rights reform.
Eleanor died on November 7, 1962, at the age of 78. She is buried next to FDR at Hyde Park, New York.
“The greatest thing I have learned is how good it is to come home again,” Eleanor Roosevelt