Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site
Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt
"All that is within me cries out to go back to my home on the Hudson River" FDR
Enjoy the "Roosevelt Ride" Free Shuttle Service
Enjoy the "Roosevelt Ride" Free Shuttle Service
The estate, which also comprised about one square mile (2.5 square kilometers) of land at the time, was bought in this condition by Franklin D. Roosevelt's father, James Roosevelt, in 1866 for a price of $40,000 USD, equal to $598,000 today. At this time, a stable and a horse track had been built already, which was important to James Roosevelt since he took a great interest in horse breeding. From right after the purchase until his death 34 years later, James Roosevelt had many improvements of the house carried out. He enlarged the servants' wing of the building and added two rooms. He also had a spacious carriage house built in the vicinity.
In 1915, Franklin D. Roosevelt, together with his mother Sara, undertook a final major enlargement and remodelling of the home. This was done in order to accommodate his growing family, but also to create an environment for entertaining his political associates which fitted his ambitions. Roosevelt contributed many ideas for the new design, but since the building work was paid for by his mother Sara, she had to find compromises which also took the financial aspect into account. She commissioned the design work the firm of Hoppin and Koen from New York City. The size of the house was more than doubled by adding two large fieldstone wings (designed by Roosevelt), a tower, and a third story with a flat roof. The clapboard exterior of the house was replaced with stucco and most of the porch was replaced with a fieldstone terrace with a balustrade and a small columned portico around the entrance. These alterations gave the exterior of the house the look of a mansion in Colonial Revival Style. The interior retained much of the layout of the old family home and was designed primarily with housing Roosevelt's growing collections of books, paintings, stamps, and coins. The remodelling work was finished within one year in 1916. 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. Eventually, large portions of the estate were turned into an experimental forestry station under an agreement with the Forestry Department of the Syracuse University.
In 1943, Roosevelt donated the estate to the American people under the condition that his family maintained a life-time right to usage of the property. On November 21, 1945, after the family had relinquished their rights, the estate was transferred to the U.S. Department of the Interior. Since then, the estate has been administered by the National Park Service as a National Historic Site and is open to the public. In 2005, the site covered a total area of more than 3 square kilometers and received 108,611 visitors.
Roosevelt was born in what was then the second floor tower bedroom at the south end of the house. At the time, it functioned as the master bedroom; the bedroom which he and later his sons used during boyhood is nearby on the same floor. After marrying Eleanor Roosevelt in 1905, the young couple moved in with his mother. The estate remained the center of Roosevelt's life in all stages of his career. During his presidency alone, he came for almost 200 visits. The estate functioned as a "Summer White House", where the President hosted his political associates as well as other prominent national and international figures. In June 1939, when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, accompanied by Prime Minister of Canada William Lyon Mackenzie King as minister in attendance,made the first visit of a reigning Canadian monarch to the United States, they were hosted at Springwood. Other guests included Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Winston Churchill, as well as European royalty such Queen Wilhelmina, Princess Juliana, and Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, and Crown Prince Olaf and Crown Princess Märtha of Norway. Further, Roosevelt used the estate as a retreat for himself and his political associates on the eves of all elections in which he ran for president. When the incoming results indicated that he had won the election, he would go outside onto the front terrace to deliver his acceptance speech.
Roosevelt made his last visit to Springwood in the last week of March 1945, about two weeks before his death. At his own wish, he was buried near the sundial in the Rose Garden on April 15, 1945. His wife was buried at his side after her death in 1962. Also buried here are Fala, the famous scottish terrier, and Chief, a German Shepherd also owned by FDR.