One of the pleasures of living in the Hudson Valley is the sense of history preserved by numerous historic houses. One favorite is Springwood, the vast farm and birthplace of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in Hyde Park, N.Y.
The house was built by the President’s parents, James and Sara Delano Roosevelt as a Victorian cottage. Later, it house was remodeled in the style of regional Dutch stone houses with Neoclassical flourishes, and enlarged by the President’s mother.
Sara Roosevelt decorated the house in her taste, the dark style of the early 20th century. It’s hardly a showplace — particularly compared to the neighboring Vanderbilt Mansion on the same road — even though the King and Queen of England stayed there during a visit. It was viewed as the family’s beloved farm. Currently, it’s a bit sad to see it less than well preserved.
It’s fascinating to see bedroom furnishings of this period. Some of the President’s clothes hang in his tiny closet, large rooms had very little light, and the stupendous views from the bluff overlooking the Hudson River were largely blocked out by layers of heavy curtains.
The gardens are lovely, the greenhouse is 100 years old, and the stables were beautifully built. A large library on the grounds houses the study where the President worked during his term in office as well as memorabilia from both the President and his wife Eleanor. History buffs would certainly enjoy this tour.
One of my favorite books is an intimate glimpse of the life with the Roosevelts in the White House during World War II. Titled “No Ordinary Time,” it was written by Doris Kearns Goodwin more than a dozen years ago and anyone who is intrigued by Springwood and wishes to learn more might enjoy reading it as much as I did.