Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Little White House in Georgia, part 2

In my last post I stopped after walking through the "bump gate" leading to the Little White House.  We walked by a Marine Corps Sentry post to the left and a US Secret Service booth to the right.  I peeked inside and took pictures - there was period furnishing inside. (Click on collage twice to see better.)

We entered the Servants' Quarters and walked up the stairs to the seating area where there was a nice pot belly stove.  The rooms could be seen through a glass enclosure - one bedroom for the cook, Daisy Bonner and the other bedroom shared by Irving McDuffie, personal valet to FDR and Lizzie McDuffie, the family maid and a bathroom.

Across the Servants' Quarters is the Guests' House - preserved as it was during FDR's time.  Here too, there is a glass enclosure by the doors - so the photos are not very clear and you can see my reflection.

Then we could see the Little White House in front of us.  As I mentioned in my last post President Roosevelt (FDR) had this small cottage built in 1932 and stayed there whenever he came to Warm Springs to swim in the therapeutic warm pools.  His wife, Eleanor Roosevelt disliked this cottage and came rarely.

The Little White House is a six room one-story cottage, quite humble for a President of the United States.  It was opened to the public in 1948 and has been kept the same as it was the day FDR passed away.  President John F. Kennedy spoke here when he was a candidate for the 1960 presidential race.  Jimmy Carter opened his general election campaign here in 1976. (Click on collage to read better.)

When we visited the Little White House years ago one could walk freely in the rooms and the last portrait of the president was still placed on the easel in the living room.  Now, a Georgia State Park employee gives information and the rooms can be viewed through glass enclosures.  We entered through the side door into the kitchen after passing an ice box on the porch.  It is a spartan kitchen from the 1930s.

This was followed by a small pantry.

We walked into the front room.  A replica of FDR's dog Fala was standing by the door.  Fala was the beloved Scottish Terrier who followed FDR everywhere and was well known and liked by the public.  He died in 1952.  On the side is the wheelchair FDR designed from a kitchen chair.  There is also a linen closet in the room - you can see the reflection of the State Park attendant in my picture of the closet below.

Then we entered the dining/living room combination.  FDR liked nautical themed items as he was a "Navy" man - models of ships (one he built with his sons) and ship paintings.  The house looks very cozy and warm with wood everywhere.  These is a Dictaphone where FDR recorded his voice and also recorded his "fireside chats" radio address.

Tall French doors opened onto the back verandah where FDR liked to look at the view.  FDR had asked that no tree be cut down when building the house so the back yard could retain its natural woodsy atmosphere.  There were some Marine Sentry shacks in the back too.  This 10th of April 2013 was a lovely spring day and I could have sat in a chair on the sundeck with a cool glass of lemonade.  I could easily imagine FDR having a drink here sixty-eight years earlier on 10th of April 1945.

But we came back inside through a side door straight into FDR's bedroom and his adjacent small bathroom.  The bed was not big, just a simple single bed.

On the other side of the bathroom was Eleanor's bedroom  A panel indicated that she did not come often, but FDR's children and other family members used this room when they came to Warm Springs.

Then we were back in the main room.  The easel that Madame Shoumatoff was using on 12 April 1945 to paint his portrait is still in the same place.  The watercolor "Unfinished Portrait" has been moved into the new Legacy Building.

President Roosevelt had come to Warm Springs on March 30, 1945, to rest after the stress of the Yalta Conference, the 1944 campaign and the continuing war effort.  He was very tired and looked weak.  His cousins Laura Delano and Margaret Suckley, as well as his secretary Grace Tully and his assistant Bill Hassett were there.  On April 12, 1945 he read the Atlanta newspapers, dictated some letters and worked on a draft of a Jefferson Day speech for the following day, April 13.  He was looking forward to a minstrel show that afternoon at 5:15 p.m.  One of his favorite entertainers, a black pianist and accordionist, Graham Jackson, a recruiting chief petty officer in the Coast Guard had obtained a leave so he could perform for the president that day - that would have been his 24th performance for FDR.

Another guest, Lucy Mercer Rutherfurd (1891-1948) who had been his mistress decades earlier and was staying in the Guest House was there also with her friend, the Russian born painter Elizabeth Shoumatoff (1888-1980.)  As Ms. Shoumatoff was sketching his portrait FDR was reading, seating in his favorite chair near the fireplace.  But at about 1:00 p.m. he complained of having a terrible pain in the back of his head and collapsed.  He was carried to his bed.  Ms. Rutherfurd and Shoumatoff left for Aiken, South Carolina.  At 3:35 p.m. on that 12th April 1945 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was pronounced dead from a cerebral hemorrhage.  FDR was 63 and had served 83 days into his fourth presidential term.  It felt strange being in his bedroom on that April day but I also had feelings of profound sorrow and sadness for this brilliant man.  I bought a postcard of his unfinished portrait. 

We left the Little White House cottage and went to the Legacy Exhibit building.  The building houses the "Unfinished Portrait" and the "Finished Portrait" that Elizabeth Shoumatoff painted from memory in 1946.  The difference is in the color of the tie.  FDR is holding the rolled up program of the Jefferson Day Dinner in his hand.

The building below is dedicated to the legacy of Franklin D. Roosevelt.  As you enter, on the left, is the flag that draped FDR's coffin.  There are also posters and photographs.

Whenever FDR arrived or left Warm Springs he came by Georgia Hall (the main building of the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute) where he was greeted when he arrived or where they said goodbye to him when he left for Washington.  On April 13 1945 they said their final farewell.  A military procession from Fort Benning had escorted the hearse to Georgia Hall where everyone was in tears.  Graham Jackson played Dvorak's "Going Home" on his accordion instead of the minstrel show as planned.  Tears weere running down his face (see a close-up in collage above from a museum display board.)  Eleanor who was there now was very moved to see how much the people of Warm Springs loved her husband.

That Friday April 13th the funeral presidential train left Warm Springs station at 9:05 a.m.  The coffin placed on a bier of Georgia pine was in the last Pullman car with the windows open.  The casket was draped with the flag that had been flowing on a pole at the Little White House.  An honor guard was standing at attention.  A large crowd had assembled along the tracks to watch the 11-car funeral train go by and to say goodbye to their beloved president and friend - thousands more gathered along the tracks all the way to Atlanta and beyond.  FDR's casket remained at the White House for one day and on April 15, 1945 President Rooseelt was laid to rest.  The descendant of Maartenszen van Rosenvelt "Marten of the rose field" is buried in the rose garden of the Roosevelt home in Hyde Park, New York.  Now, every 12th of April the flag at the Little White House flies at half-mast in remembrance of FDR's death in Warm Springs.  (Most old pictures are from displays at the museum or from the Digital Library of Georgia.)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a wealthy aristocrat but through his 41 trips to Warm Springs, Georgia, he came to understand and help working people.  During his 12 years in office he led the nation through the Great Depression and World War II.  FDR was fond of his little rustic cottage which he called his "inspirational retreat."  I am pleased that we visited the Little White House Historical Site.  It shows and explains to me why the nation cherished him.  FDR save the Americans' jobs, farms, and their way of life.  He helped ensure the freedom of many nations  Our tickets included admission to the therapeutic pools museum where FDR swam with other polio patients but it was almost 2:00 p.m. so we went to lunch.  The visit to the therapeutic pool museum will be in an upcoming post. Below is a shrub in blooms from the back yard of the Little White House.

"We are a nation of many nationalities, many races, many religions - bound together by a single unity, the unity of freedom and equality.  Whoever seeks to set one nationality against another, seeks to degrade all nationalities.  Whoever seeks to set one race against another seeks to enslave all races.  Whoever seeks to set one religion against another, seeks to destroy all religions." - Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Note:  Post pre-programmed.


Amanda said...

So many things FDR championed are being taken away, like a seashore eroding as time goes by.
Lovely place that I wish all politicians could visit to learn lessons from a great president.

DJan said...

This was a wonderful visit to the Little White House, VB. I learned many things I didn't know before, and I truly cherish that final quote from FDR. Thank you for putting this post together with your narrative. It's perfect.

Kittie Howard said...

Devoured every word. We're definitely going when we return to Virginia from New Orleans this Christmas. We've visited FDR's place outside Rhinebeck, NY, and that was amazing. The period pieces enthralled.

The Broad said...

The little cottage is so very touching and personal -- almost as if he somehow still there... wonderful pictures and post -- as usual, Vagabonde!

toko baju muslim said...

I love your beautiful blog I really liked your article as it is very interesting to read thank you.

David said...

Vagabonde, FDR was a good President for the times that he was in office. He was a consummate politician, that's for sure! Great photos as usual... Thanks and Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Jeanie said...

I absolutely must go here. Mostly for the history, but I love that house. That room with the fireplace and books is ready for me!

I have this wonderful vision of you putting that lens up to the window and shooting, trying to angle as much as you can! I would do exactly the same thing!

I think your husband must be great! We photo-types seem to drag out the day, sometimes! But look at what we get for our trouble!

Thanks for sharing the history as well. That really touches me. One of your most fascinating posts yet.

Nadezda said...

I have read with great interest the history of FDR life and service as president.
It was a great and very smart man!
Possible the policy in the world would have been different if he had lived after the war.
Amazing museum! all done with great love for FDR and for the history.
Thank you for sharing!

OldLady Of The Hills said...

I remember that picture of Graham Jackson. It so expressed the feelings of all of my family and me, It is a beautiful Iconic image of grief! He spoke for all of us.
This is such a lovely and loving post, my dear....And so appreciated by me, I LOVED FDR and thought he was such an erudite caring brilliant President. It was such a sad sad day when he died. Being President is so very difficult---it ages the person in Incredible ways. And FDR was President during such horribly difficult and challenging years....And for so very many years. Thank You So Much, for this beautiful post!

Pondside said...

What a beautiful post. I enjoyed every one of the photos and explanations - yours and the various signs. I'd love to visit this house.
FDR was an amazing man!

Elephant's Child said...

Thank you so much. I knew almost nothing about FDR, and you have brought him, and his policies to life for me.
While Eleanor didn't like the Little White House it strikes me as a gem, and I am glad that it was a place of peace and beauty for FDR. A president's life has to be such a difficult one...

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

FDR was a remarkable man and to see his little White House is a pleasure. He seemed so down to earth. I especially love the outside of the house with the white clapboard and contrasting shutters. I guess I'm a bit surprised at all of the dark wood walls in the interior. Perhaps that was the fashion of the day.

Thanks so much for taking us along.

Dee said...

Dear Vagabonde, thank you, sincerely, for sharing these photographs of the Little White House and the historical items and for your text, which speaks so eloquently of your admiration for FDR. He was the president of my childhood and I will always believe that he is one of the greatest presidents the United States has ever had. Peace.

Magic Love Crow said...

So much history! Beautiful place ;o)

Vicki Lane said...

Quite wonderful -- like a time capsule. FDR's legacy is still much appreciated by many of us -- a great president in a difficult time.

Things and Thoughts said...

A very interesting post, so much to learn... Thank you for visiting me and leaving me your sweet comment. I'm pleased you liked the poem.
Have a lovely Sunday !

sweffling said...

These Little White House posts are so interesting. I love the elegant simplicity of the House and contents and also the unfinished portrait. It shines with intelligence and integrity.

Sally Wessely said...

I so enjoyed reading this! Thank you so much for again documenting you trip so brilliantly with such a beautifully written narrative and your wonderful photographs. I really must visit this place.

Mandy Southgate said...

Wow, that is such a great place to visit! I love that it is fully furnished with authentic, historical artifacts! He certainly died too soon, didn't he? His impact on the world was so great - the suburb next to mine in South Africa was called Roosevelt Park after him.

Anonymous said...

Nice job on capturing the Little White House. I hope it inspires everyone to go there & soak up the FDR/Warm Springs spirit. Highly recommend spending a couple of days at a CCC built stone cabin at FDR State Park close by. If you do make it to the Little White House, check out the cigarette burn on the card table where he collapsed & notice the board installed next to the bathtub & wall-FDR had that put there so he could reach the soap when it fell. Definitely try to schedule a guided tour so you can discover lots of little details about the house & contents.

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