Sunshine this morning and temps in the 60’s. A nice fall day. Today we are going to the FDR Home and Presidential Library and the Vanderbilt Mansion which were closed due to government shutdown in 2013 when we were last in Hyde Park.
We had an 11:00 hour tour with a Ranger who was a real hoot! Franklin’s father, James, bought the 110-acre property in 1867 for $40,000. It included a house and working farm overlooking the Hudson River. Franklin ultimately expanded the holdings to nearly 1,500 acres and planted over 500,000 trees now run by NPS. We have read many books on the Roosevelts but still learned some new trivia. Franklin was 10 pounds at birth (!); there are only 4 pictures depicting him in a wheel chair; his Ford Phaeton had a contraption on the left of the steering wheel the produced a lit Camel when he pushed a button; his father required him to taxidermy his bird catches at 11 until he was getting too sick from doing so; Franklin supervised the expansion of Springwood to what we see today. The house was quite dark but comfortably “lived in.”
The Roosevelt Presidential Library is the first presidential library and the only one built and used by a sitting president. He began a tradition raising private funds to build a library which he gave to the government for operation by the National Archives. The museum chronicled his and Eleanor’s life and accomplishments very well. He led America out of the Depression by refining the role of government in America establishing programs designed to improve the lives of all Americans that are still in existence today: SSN, FDIC, SEC, minimum wage and unemployment insurance to name a few. Eleanor continues to inspire new generations as a reformer, teacher, journalist, political activist, First Lady, advocate for the underprivileged and as a delegate to the UN, champion for the Declaration of Universal Rights. Franklin still is most remembered for his 4 Freedoms that resonated with so many Americans: Freedom from Want, Freedom from Fear, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship illustrated by Norman Rockwell. There was a special exhibit called the Art of War depicting the posters created by many illustrators for the government and corporations to support the war effort. Excellent!
The Vanderbilt Museum was much more opulent but not nearly as interesting. In 1895 it was built by Frederick, one the 8 grandsons of Cornelius, to be used as a spring/fall estate for entertaining the NYC elite. (He had several other likewise extravagant homes.). The house incorporated all of the latest innovations: electricity, central heating and indoor plumbing. They rarely used the 50 -room mansion but when they did, entertained at most 18 including themselves. They were very gracious to the Hyde Park townspeople, especially the children although he had none. He left the mansion to his wife’s niece and FDR convinced her in 1939 to give it to the NPS.
Tired after all of the standing, we still took short walk around Rhinebeck before going back to camp.
Dinner is a smoked turkey sausage medley with zucchini, PEI potatoes, garlis and peppers. 2016 Gascon Malbec.