Saturday, October 15, 2011

Our Visit to Georgia and FDR's Warm Springs Home

We have returned from a delightful week with our Georgia son and his wife; they completely spoiled us while we were with them. Although we lived in the Atlanta area for about 9 years before moving to Jacksonville, Florida, visiting their home shows us a completely different side of the city from our old stomping grounds in the northern suburbs. Both areas are beautiful, with hills and gorgeous natural vegetation. But now we have an opportunity to be tourists again, taking drives (while they are at work) to places we have not seen before. Poking around wherever we are (including near home) adds a creative dimension to our lives.
This time, we drove to Warm Springs, GA, and toured the "Little White House", seeing the grounds and home of the modest retreat where Franklin Delano Roosevelt stayed whenever he "took the waters" to soothe the pain of his polio and to increase his mobility. The exhibits, short film, and personal possessions housed in the museum on the property fascinated us both. Seeing the personal side of this great man was more moving than we had expected. The cottage (seen in these photos) is charming and surprising in its simplicity. FDR unexpectedly died in this house; he felt ill while sitting for a portrait (now displayed in its unfinished form in the museum) and doing presidential paperwork. He retired to his bed and died within a few hours from a cerebral hemorrhage.
The historians have made every effort to keep the home and outbuildings unchanged from that day (except for welcome modifications, like air conditioning). The buildings just inside the gate housed Secret Service personnel and the few servants who cared for FDR, his family (when they came), and visiting dignitaries who sometimes stayed in two simple guest rooms in the rustic home. One photo shows a custom built 1940 Willys Roadster equipped with hand controls; a 1938 Ford convertible fitted with the hand controls Roosevelt himself designed is in the museum. He drove both for pleasure and to keep himself in touch with ordinary people, visiting and listening to the stories of both black and white rural Georgians whenever he was in residence. Another photo shows one of four Marine Corps Sentry Posts just off the corners of the cottage.
Here, we were reminded of the formidable challenges FDR faced as president of the United States through the Depression aftermath and World War II. But more striking to us was the vivid depiction of his personal pain and struggles and his daily courage as he continued to work at a punishing pace and to encourage the nation. FDR's nobility of spirit shines clear. We saw his heart for others and his generosity in establishing the nearby Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for disabled children and adults and in his work to remove the stigma and loneliness of polio and other disabling conditions and injuries. Our visit to the Little White House was memorable.
Question of the day: What historic site in the US would you recommend people visit (even those of us who are not history buffs)?


  1. glad to know you had a great time, Mary! thanks for sharing the beautiful photos. i imagine paradise while reading your description of the place. have a blessed Sunday! :)

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your trip, Mary. I love reading posts like this and hearing about any of our history.

    I've been to quite a few places myself, maybe not quite on the beaten path. One place that reduced me tears with its majesty is Mt. Rushmore. I've toured both Lincoln's home and Grant's home here in IL, and they effect me much as you've described Roosevelt's home.

    I also love watching Pawn Stars and learning new tidbits of history on that show. Just amazing!

  3. Thank you, Cher; it is a blessed Sunday. Paradise is an interesting term--you made me think, and I realized that the simple home and surrounding natural beauty are a lovely example of paradise at a human level.

    Do you have a new blog, Cher--I'll have to take a look.

  4. You are welcome, Sherry. Thanks for your interesting reflections on some historic sites. Illinois has some stellar locations, thanks to some stellar local figures who rose to national greatness.

  5. I love visiting historic sites! And I love reading your lovely posts! Earlier this year I visited the old fort in Saint Augustine, Florida. It was amazing!

  6. Hi Jean-great to hear from you! Yes, I love that old (verrrrrry old) fort. Wish we could have connected while you were there (just 45 minutes from us), but I'm sure you had your own plans for your time there. Thank you for your kind comments.