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)?