The birthplace and home of the country's 32nd president, Springwood is just as it was when the Roosevelts lived here. It contains family furnishings and keepsakes, and Franklin, Eleanor, and their beloved dog Fala are buried in the wonderful rose garden. At the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum, photographs, letters, speeches, and memorabilia document FDR's life; a multimedia exhibit examines World War II. The first of the presidential libraries, the building was designed by Roosevelt himself.
Sep 18, 2013
My spouse and I visited Springwood, the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, in mid-August of 2013. The site is run by the National Park Service (NPS), and a park ranger leads you on a walking tour of the property (there are no self-guided tours of the house permitted). Tours depart every half hour during the busy season, so you should not have to wait more than 30 minutes for your tour to begin. There are lots of placards and information
material to read while you wait, and you can also view a short 20-minute introductory film. There are restrooms, a gift shop, and a small café called Uncle Sam's Canteen, with both indoor and outdoor seating on the property. (If you want to eat somewhere off-property, the Hyde Park Brewing Company is right across the street, and other options are a short 5- to 10-minute drive away.) Parking is free, but the lot is not overly large. Still, on the day that we visited, there were still a few empty spaces even though lots of people were on-site. You must walk about one-quarter of a mile from the visitor's center to the actual home, but it is on a paved even walkway. If you have mobility issues, there is a tram to ride the short distance, although they did stress to us that it should be reserved for those who needed it most. The house itself is interesting, because unlike some other historic mansions (nearby Rockefeller Kykuit or Vanderbilt's Hyde Park, for example), the house is not monstrous, so you can actually see how the moderately (not ridiculously!) wealthy people lived. The grounds are gardens are beautiful, so be sure to take a stroll around after the house tour. Please note that the 2012 film "Hyde Park on Hudson" starring Bill Murray and Laura Linney was NOT filmed on-site at Springwood (it was filmed in the UK), so don't expect the actual site to resemble what you saw in the movie. The most impressive aspect of Springwood is without a doubt the Presidential Library. The Library was reopened earlier this summer (June 30, 2013) after an extensive multi-million dollar renovation, and it shows! When we entered the lobby, the receptionist asked us if we wanted a map, and we took one, although we wondered why we would need a map to see the library. How wrong we were! The building is huge, and the pathway winds from room to room over two floors of memorabilia, films, photographs, interactive and auditory displays, archives, and collections. You can easily spend many hours reading, watching, and listening to all available materials. In retrospect, we should have toured the house and visitor center, then left for lunch, and returned refreshed to take the library. As it was, after the 1-hour house tour and 2 hours in the library, we had earned a well-deserved (mental) rest! Related sites include Val-Kil, which was Eleanor Roosevelt's retreat, and Top Cottage, which was FDR's getaway. Top Cottage is currently closed due to budget cuts because of the sequestration. Admission to Val-Kil is priced separately, although there is rumor of a combination ticket that provides access to Springwood, Val-Kil, and the Vanderbilt mansion, whereby if you purchase admission to two of the sites, you get complimentary admission to the third site. We recommend paying for Val-Kil ($8) and Vanderbilt ($8) and getting complimentary access to Springwood ($14) for free, if they allow you. (Rates are scheduled to raise to $18 for Springwood later this year.) We believe that you would need at least 2 days to see all three sites. A complimentary shuttle bus runs between the sites. We really loved the Presidential Library portion of our visit - it is a must-see!