Don's PhotoJaunt 2003
Little White House
in Warm Springs, Georgia
Always cheerful in public, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt greets his neighbors in Warm Springs, Georgia. The original photo is displayed in the museum there.
Incidentally, this is pronounced "Little White House", not "little White House" or "little white house," even though it is a little white house.
Franklin had contracted polio while vacationing at the Roosevelt summer home on Campobello Island, which is off the coast of Maine, a part of New Brunswick, Canada, while still a young man. After swimming with his kids one day, he took sick, and was bedridden for a long time. He recovered slowly, but never regained use of his legs. Sara, his mother, wanted him to retire and let her take care of him, but his wife Eleanor knew better than to allow that. She kept his career alive until he was able to make a comeback and become governor of New York, which led to the presidency.
The Walk of States leading up to the Little White House features flags of all the states and D.C., plus stones from each state. Most of the stones are in the shape of the state; Vermont's is in the foreground. Shortly after Franklin contracted polio, a friend told him about the healing waters of Warm Springs. Franklin gave the place a try, and found that the waters did indeed ease his pain and lift his spirits. He bought some property there and had a small house built for his use. He went swimming in the pools with handicapped children and adults from the area; he inspired them, and they inspired him.
The Little White House complex has Eleanor's cabin on the left, Franklin's house in the middle, and Secret Service Headquarters on the right.
Franklin's house is small and cozy, only six rooms. It's easy to imagine why Franklin visited it whenever he could -- every two or three months until he died.
The front door.
Eleanor's bedroom, although I doubt if she ever used it. She had her own cabin, for one thing, and she didn't like going to Warm Springs anyway.
Bathroom. The bathtub was moved away from the wall to allow easier access for Franklin; the toilet was raised up off the floor for Franklin's benefit also.
Franklin specified when he had the house built that insofar as possible no trees were to be removed, so the back yard would retain its natural growth. It's easy to imagine Franklin wheeling out here in the warm Georgia evening, his friends at his side, a glass of lemonade in his hand, swapping yarns and discussing his next political battle.
On April 12, 1945, here at Warm Springs, Franklin was having his portrait painted. Suddenly he put his hand to his head and said, "I have the most terrible headache." Those were his last words. The artist stopped painting. The president was dead. (Photo from "FDR's Little White House State Historic Site" brochure, produced by Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites.)