Tuesday, August 18, 2009

FDR's Little White House: A Simple American Home

Last summer, we went to the Little White House, in Warm Springs, Georgia. This is where President Franklin Delano Roosevelt spent much time during his presidency, and where he passed away in April 1945.

The thing that most struck me about this house is how very ordinary it is. Anyone's grandmother could have lived here. There was no ostentation, no luxury. It is a simple home with maple furniture, twin beds, well-read books near the fireplace, and the comfort of homeliness.

The kitchen had no cabinets, only open shelves along the walls. The things we would put into cabinets were stored in the pantry/closet - it was lined with shelves and is shown in the first picture, above.

They told us the living room is exactly as it looked the day he passed away. The nautical decor was a favorite of his, as he was a Navy man.
President Roosevelt's bed, on which he was lying when he passed away suddenly from a stroke. The room is very small, with a single bed, and the furniture you see is pretty much the whole of the room. It is located right off of the living room.
This was Eleanor's room, with a pair of twin beds. The guide told us that their children especially enjoyed coming to The Little White House, and would stay here in Mrs. Roosevelt's room when they came.
The Dining Room is not separate, the table is simply across the room from the living area, with the hutch sitting opposite the fireplace shown in the living room photo. Even so, the whole room is rather small. The proportions of the furniture help keep it from feeling crowded.

This unfinished photo is the one for which President Roosevelt was sitting when he passed away.

There is a small garage apartment over the garage that is labeled "servants quarters", but these were a cook/housekeeper, and a driver/butler whose assistance was necessary to our paralyzed president.

The live-in housekeeper was not unusual even for middle class families who didn't have a grandmother living with them in those days when labor was cheap and goods expensive. Without the labor-saving devices that became common after WWII, help of some kind - whether family or hired - was essential. Notice in the kitchen photos how bare of "things" the kitchen was. Yet nearly all food was made from scratch or preserved at home, so much more time was involved in the preparation.

Oh, he and Mrs Roosevelt had luxury in their lives - both were from wealthy families and they did live in the White house, after all. But this little place where he escaped for treatments at the natural hot spring spa up the road in Warm Springs, and where his children came to spend time with him after they were grown, is by far the best example of an American Home of the era.

Although I am not decorating my little cottage in this same style, I do find much inspiration, and comfort, in these rooms.


  1. FDR is the single greatest President since Washington and Lincoln.

    FDR united the American people through the Great Depression of the 1930s and WW II

    President FDR possessed “noblesse oblige,” a sense of patrician duty or responsibility toward others…So, during the Depression FDR inspired the Greatest Generation with his undaunting confidence in the American people and his bulldog determination to “do something, do anything, but don’t just sit there”attitude.
    FDR passed Social Security to make the average AMERICAN a part of the American Dream…FDR saved Capitalism, but was scorned by American Capitalists.

    During WWII, FDR rallied All Americans in his Dec 7th 1941 Pearl Harbor Attack Speech “With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounding determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.”

    FDR melded the American people into the “GREATEST GENERATION.”

  2. Thank you so much for your comment. My grandfather, who was growing up during those years, had much admiration and gratitude to Mr Roosevelt for all he did for the American people, and we were brought up to share that respect for FDR.




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