2. Franklin D. Roosevelt

Hyde Park

Franklin D. Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882 at Springwood, the family estate in Hyde Park that was purchased by his father James in 1866. In 1915, FDR and his mother Sara began renovating and enlarging the house and created the imposing Italianate mansion that visitors see today.

The house was home to FDR’s “Summer White House” during his Presidency where notable personages including Queen Elizabeth and King George VI, Winston Churchill, and many other European monarchs paid visit. One little-known visit included the future Gold medalist rowing team from the Washington University at the 1936 Olympics, while competing at the Poughkeepsie Regatta. The Washington boys, hearing that Hyde Park was nearby, literally walked there and rang the front door, where they were welcomed by FDR’s son, who was himself a member of the crew team at Harvard.  The story is recounted in the book The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

FDR built other houses on the Hyde Park estate for his mother and wife, Eleanor. In 1943, Franklin Delano Roosevelt donated Springwood to the American people and after his death it was transferred to the National Parks Service. FDR died in his “Little White House” in Palm Springs, Georgia, but he is buried at the Rose Garden at Springwood. Today, the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site can be visited and is still part of the National Park Service.

FDR and Eleanor also had a townhouse in New York City. The adjoining townhouses at 47-49 East 65th Street were commissioned by FDR’s mother for the new couple as a Christmas gift. In 1908, Eleanor and FDR moved in to 49 East 65th Street while Sara Delano moved into 47 East 65th Street. It was largely during their residence here that the most significant events and political policy contributions by Eleanor and FDR were made. Roosevelt recovered from his diagnosis of polio here in 1921, began his ascent into politics as a New York senator, was elected President and inked the New Deal. Eleanor was very involved with the Women’s Trade Union League at this time and forging equality in women’s rights.

The house was acquired by Hunter College in 1942 and became a New York City landmark in 1973. A remodel was completed in 2010 and became the home of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College.