On Monday we took another fun field trip (thanks Pa!). This time we headed north to Hyde Park, NY. This Middle Hudson Valley area is so gorgeous! If we had more hours of sunlight, I would have loved to catch more pics of the Hudson. We also wish we could have walked across the Walkway Over the Hudson, the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world.
But we had a packed day full of learning and walking and just couldn’t squeeze anything else in! First up was the home of FDR and his presidential library and museum. The timing was perfect and as soon as we got to the visitor center they were starting a tour.
It was cool to see where FDR was born and raised!
Franklins father purchased this 110-acre estate with house and working farm overlooking the Hudson River in 1867 for $40,000.
FDR said of his home, “My heart has always been here. It always will be.” He gifted it all to the American people by deeding it to the National Park Service in 1943.
When you walk into the foyer you see this amazing clock that Franklin & Eleanor brought back from their European honeymoon:
I was so intrigued by this Italian piece:
We loved the chandelier in this room (with the crooked candles haha) and signed pictures of so many dignitaries who visited here:
The library is a fave of ours in any mansion we visit:
And we liked the dining room with the turned out chair for FDR to easily get in and out of:
I didn’t realize that the American people didn’t know that FDR was fully paralyzed from the waist down. Most people thought he did have some mobility in his lower half since he found a way to “walk” …but in reality the polio completely paralyzed him. And that occurred after he lost the 1920 election for president… and before he was elected our 32nd president in 1932. He seemed to be a very strong willed and determined man … even in his house it can be seen. He used this “elevator” by manually pulling himself up to the 2nd floor with those ropes…he refused to have electrical put into the elevator.
Look at this pink room where King George VI and Winston Churchill both stayed:
Bathrooms have changed a little over the years:
This is the actual room and actual bed where FDR was born in 1882:
FDR’s room as an adult including during WWII:
We loved the screen porch:
And views over the Hudson:
Then we were off to the Presidential Library and Museum. This was the first presidential library established! And it’s the only one that was actually used by a sitting president.
Wow there was a lot to read about FDR. We didn’t even get to finish because our brains had reached capacity.
I enjoyed reading about his childhood growing up in a family of wealth on the Hudson….sailing down the river by age 8, enjoying horseback riding, a lover of farming and trees and nature, the only child of Sara and James Roosevelt. He may have grown up in wealth and privilege… but hardship doesn’t discriminate. What an overcomer! I believe that his strength and example were a hope to many and would help lift up the spirit of the country during very trying times. Of course no president is without intense critics and controversy….
I also appreciated learning about Eleanor’s childhood and I’m now a true fan of her. Talk about an overcomer ! I’m looking for a good book on her now.
We didn’t visit Val-Kill on the property…. that was her retreat and center for activism during their political life…. and then her home after FDR’s death (the big house was deeded to the American people upon his death …. and it was opened to the public on the 1 year anniversary of his death). But we did learn about Val-Kill Industries, which was run by Eleanor. It was a social experiment that helped train farmers in crafting skills and sold furniture and pewter items. Like these beds in one of their guest rooms:
The museum also had a special feature right now for the 75th anniversary of DDay, which was a great exhibit. It was all about the relationship between Churchill and FDR. It’s pretty incredible the friendship they developed, how they helped and cared for each other, and challenged each other. And it was also pretty incredible how many times things that could have been extremely disastrous worked out right and well because one of them decided to change their mind and listen to the other’s advice. I read that this relationship was probably the most important friendship of the 20th century and I believe it !
The descriptions of Christmas in DC 1941 was particularly interesting to me. I had no idea Churchill stayed here so long. And I also thought it was interesting that this mourning band on FDR was for the grief of losing his dear Mom (not Pearl Harbor like some thought):
I really liked this parallel timeline of Churchill and FDR’s lives and what led them to the moment they would take center stage:
It made me think of how many details the Lord has to perfectly manage in any one life to move history forward. Phew.
Look at the state of the war in 1942. It was truly an impossible miracle to have accomplished all we did:
And this gift from the Casablanca conference. So interesting:
I loved this capture:
This was surreal to read the actual diary pages of Margaret Suckley, distant cousin and close friend to FDR. She was with him in the days leading up to the invasion of Normandy. It’s strange to think of her writing those pages as one of the greatest saddest worst and best days in history would soon take place. It’s just odd…. she (and he) was so far removed from “our boys” on those shores and what was about to happen:
The top secret message telling of the delay of DDay:
FDR (and Eleanor) were laid to rest in the rose garden right by the house. This picture and description of Churchill paying his respects was a good capture:
There was so much to learn in the museum and library. Hard to even take it all in. But here are some other faves. E’s inauguration speech:
Trying to use rotary phones:
I loved the little baby curl caught in this locket:
His connection to Teddy:
The media’s respect…. just like today right?
Biggest electoral landslide in history…. and when African Americans decisively moved parties to support FDR:
FDR’s actual office. Many fireside chats were recorded here:
(There are 13 presidential libraries around the country, by the way… New goal!)
Up next we headed just a few miles down the road to the Vanderbilt mansion.
Such a great follow up to our Biltmore visit!
The Vanderbilt who owned this house was Frederick, brother to George of the Biltmore.
And this little country house of his was definitely more modest than most other Vanderbilt places 🙂
Here we are in the foyer:
The dining room:
It was a very dark house. Men’s room:
Lots of mythology:
Look at her French inspired bedroom:
So many beautiful pieces and decor:
Our tour guide did a great job and I loved the history of the Vanderbilts. It is absolutely absurd how much money they had, how they lived, how much they spent on parties… it’s all just… stupid . Haha I’m sorry. I meant it’s all just ridiculous 🙂
This property was given to a niece of these Vanderbilts since these didn’t have any children. She tried to sell it as she didn’t need it and wouldn’t use it …. it went down to some $150,000 ! But it never sold, so she sold it to the NPS for a dollar and we now have another glimpse into life of the wealthy in the Gilded Age.
These were our American royals. Even though they were the nouveau riche 🙂 . Somebody now needs to do a show like Downton Abbey but set around one of our families.
Just think – this family’s wealth all started with one man who rose from poverty to a tycoon. He turned a $100 loan into multi millions in 1877. Go Commodore!
I walked away from the day inspired and thankful to live in America with all the provision protection and opportunities we have!
These mansions make me wonder what life in eternity will be like. Wouldn’t it be awesome if the ones who lived life on earth in poverty were the ones with the biggest rooms in eternity !?
Make no mistake about it …. if you live in America and are reading this…. you’re one of the richest in the world! We are truly privileged and with privilege comes responsibility.
Much love to all.