Aug 25 – Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Birthplace and Homestead (Springwood)

This morning we drove to John and Judi's condo in Port Ewen, NY overlooking the Hudson River before heading off to visit FDR's homestead, his presidential library and museum and Val-Kill, Eleanor Roosevelt's retreat and later home after the death of her husband.

Springwood, where Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born and lived for most of his life is located on the same property complex as his presidential museum.  After stopping at the Visitor Center

where there were a number of displays

the most interesting, a copy of his December 8, 1941 "Day of Infamy" speech to Congress.

From there we joined a tour which headed to Springwood.

British Cannons

Bell from a Spanish warship hangs near the front door

On a high bluff overlooking the Hudson River, Springwood is a large, rambling structure faced with stucco and fieldstone. Born in the house FDR maintained a lifelong connection, and lies buried nearby. Throughout his life, he had a strong and abiding connection with Springwood. It is believed that the central portion of the house was constructed around the year 1800 in the Federal style.  It was purchased by Josiah Wheeler in 1845 who remodeled of the house to 15 rooms and giving it a then-fashionable Itanianate style with a three-story tower at the south end as well as front and rear piazzas spanning the entire length of the house.

In 1866, James Roosevelt, Franklin's father purcahsed the house and rougly one square mile estate for $40,000.    The property featured a stable and horse track , which was important to James because he took great interest in horse breeding.  Until his death in 1900, James made many improvements of the house and property. He enlarged the servants' wing of the building, adding two rooms, and had a spacious carriage house.

In 1882, Franklin was born in what was then the second floor tower bedroom at the south end of the house.

In 1905, after he married Eleanor Roosevelt (his 5th cousin),

the young couple moved in with his mother. The estate remained the center of Roosevelt's life in all stages of his career.

In 1915, FDR and his mother, Sara began a final enlargement and remodeling of the home to accommodate his growing family, but also to create an environment for entertaining his political associates which fitted his ambitions. Franklin contributed many ideas for the new design, but since the building work was paid for by his mother Sara, he had to find compromises which also took the financial aspect into account.

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.

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.

Carbon Tetra Fluoride Fire Extinguisher – thrown at the base of a fire

Franklin as a young man

Many political cartoons

Elevator shaft used by FDR – notice the rope which he used to manually pull himself from the first to second floors to strengthen his upper body

This Living Room and Library is 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. As this room was approsimately three feet lower than the entrance foyer, a ramp was installed to permit FDR's wheelchair acess to and from it.

The Music Room is a formal parlor which contains many Chinese pieces of porccelain 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.

The Dining Room.

FDR's chair at the head of the table

Dinner gong just off the entrance foyer

The Snuggery 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.


One of the first televisions in private use, from the 1935 World's Fair

Staircase leadding to the second floor.

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. 

In case you mised it, the telephone on the nightstand was a "secure phone" connected to the White House for FDR's use when at Springwood during World War II

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.

Other second floor rooms

FDR's Boyhood Bedroom

Guest Room

Third floor rooms (tours did not include access to this floor)

Franklin's first floor private office is not presently open for visitors … but can be views through some dirty windows.

James's Roosevelt's stables

Nearby are Franklin's and Eleanor's gravesites.

Two of Roosevelt's dogs, including Fala which survived him by seven years are buried beneath a sundial near him

We had intended to tour FDR's presidential museum following Springwood.  However, as we'd spent so much time at Roosevelt's homestead, we decided to head for lunch at

In 1704, William Traphagen established a traveler's inn, the Traphagen Tavern, at the town crossroads. At the time, Ryn Beck was a small settlement being carved out of the forests initially inhabited by the Sepasco Native Americans. The area had been colonized since the 1680s by the Dutch, where the King's Highway, now known as Route 9, intersected the Sepasco Trail, winding its way down to the Hudson River. The Beekman Arms was added to the original tavern in 1766 and has been operating ever since.

The Beekman Arms was named after the Beekman family. At the time, Judge Henry Beekman numbered prominently among the original British Crown land owners in the Hudson Valley. Colonel Henry Beekman Jr. expanded his father's land holdings and populated them with refugees from Europe's Palatine-Rhine region.

Bogardus Tavern, as the building was known during the last third of the 18th century, helped host the American Revolution. The Fourth Regiment of the Continental Army performed drills on the front lawn in preparation for the war. A sturdy timber and stone building originally built to withstand possible Native American attacks, the Bogardus Tavern served similar purposes during the war with the British Crown. The townsfolk took refuge here while the British burned the state capital, Kingston, across the river. George Washington, Philip Schuyler, Benedict Arnold, and Alexander Hamilton all slept, ate, drank, argued, and laughed here throughout the Revolutionary War.

By 1785, the King's Highway had been renamed as the new nation's Post Road. The year 1804 saw an intense race for the governorship of New York State. Both candidates had headquarters in Rhinebeck. General Morgan Lewis was based here, while Vice President Aaron Burr was based down the street at the Kip Tavern. By July of that year, Aaron Burr had killed Morgan Lewis's friend and Philip Schuyler's brother-in-law, Alexander Hamilton, in a duel over a quarrel that had begun in our tavern.

Rhinebeck continued to grow in the early 19th century in both size and popularity as a stop between New York City and Albany. It was also the center of the town's civic growth serving as the town hall, post office, theater, and newspaper publisher. The tavern hosted lodge meetings, tea parties, public auctions, and even religious services conducted by traveling preachers. The famous newspaper editor Horace Greeley was a frequent guest. William Jennings Bryan grandly orated from a second-story window to an enthusiastic gathering on the front lawn. In 1888, Benjamin Harrison and his running mate, Levi Morton, assembled in the inn with their supporters, where they learned the convention had picked them to run for the presidency.

However, as there was a carnival in Rhinebeck, the place was mobbed.  So we opted for a 1950's style



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