My daughter’s take on visiting ‘Springwood,’ the Hyde Park home of Franklin Roosevelt, was that visiting the homes of famous people was like reading People magazine; her point was that the way people lived is no reflection of the impact they had on the world. Good point, but I dragged her along anyway.
For anyone who has seen the recent Ken Burns
series on the Roosevelts, actually visiting the house is an insightful supplement. Here is the story of the financial hold his mother had on him and Eleanor, and here is the story of his tremendous fight to hide his incapacity to walk while showing a great capacity to think and live normally.
The Presidential Library—the nation’s first, and started while he was still in office—is a comprehensive showcase of the Depression, a sad chronicle of the nation at its lowest point. In addition, the estate also includes Top House, FDR’s getaway, and Val-Kill, the cottage Eleanor designed and furnished independently of her mother-in-law’s influence and her husband’s harried life.
The visit was a splendid last day of sightseeing for us before we head home tomorrow. And how did Cristal feel at the end of it? She said she was glad she went because now she would like to know more about the Roosevelts and what they accomplished.
I enjoyed your post. Many years ago, I visited The Little White House in Warm Springs, GA, the home FDR built while NY Governor. I also saw Carter’s Presidential Library in Atlanta, Mount Vernon and Monticello. Those places gave me insights into the men that I did not have previous to my visits. So, I guess I politely disagree with your daughter (smile). Homes are often direct reflections of the people who live in them.
Ashantay, Cristal disagrees. She pointed out that if you saw my house, you wouldn’t know I spent forty years in the UK, nor that I write western historicals, and so on. I feel the houses are worth visiting in and of themselves, just to see where some historical person lived and how he lived. Cristal doesn’t feel that way. But I certainly envy your list. We’ve been to Monticello and I actually learned a lot about Jefferson from that.