Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt and FDR Presidential Library Hyde Park, N.Y. Visited: March 27, 2004 NPS Site Visited: 7 of 353 Presidential Library Visted: 1 of 12 NPS Website, Local Website
WHAT IS IT? Family estate, birthplace and lifetime home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd president. Includes the first Presidential Library and the gravesites of Franklin and first lady Eleanor.
BEAUTY (7/10) Gorgeous view of the Hudson River. Although still under construction, the Visitor Center is one of the nicest we’ve seen. The grounds have a calming effect and the rose garden must be beautiful in season.
HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE (8/10) Home of the first Presidential Library. Interior of the home offers an evocative glimpse of FDR the man, his family and their relationships. Most articles are originals and still where FDR left them. FDR had always intended for this home to become a museum once his family tired of it as a residence.
CROWDS (8/10) We toured the house with a few older couples. Most tour groups we saw today numbered around ten – a perfect number for the size of the house. Our group was knowledgeable and inquisitive. We enjoyed their questions.
EASE OF USE/ACCESS (5/5) Perhaps the most impressive feature of the FDR home, Visitor Center and Presidential Library is that it is fully accessible to individuals with disabilities. The group that toured the house after us included a father with his two sons, one using a motorized wheelchair and assistive technology. The fact that the family was able to enjoy the same experience as us is a fitting tribute to the man who was acutely aware of the narrow hallways and multiple floors in his family’s house.
The FDR National Historic Site is located directly off a main road. Drive towards Hyde Park on route 9 and you can’t miss it. A perfect score.
CONCESSIONS/ BOOKSTORE (5/5) Wonderful bookstore. The most comprehensive selection of site specific books we have seen. Shelves contained the obligatory biographies but also books related to the time period and cultural history of Roosevelt’s Administrations. We picked up a magnet and a Works Project Administration Guide to New York City, still one of the most comprehensive guides to the city 70 years later.
COSTS (2/5) A bit pricey. $18 for a combination ticket which also gets you admission to the Eleanor Roosevelt NHS and the Vanderbilt Mansion. Since the Presidential Library is not under the purview of the Parks Service, entrance to that will cost you an additional $7 for adults.
RANGER/GUIDE TO TOURIST RATIO (4/5) Rangers at the Visitor Centers and Grounds were available and accessible. The Library is staffed with Secret Service.
TOURS/CLASSES (9/10) The Ranger who took us through the house was wonderful. We were never left wanting for information and each question from the group revealed new and interesting anecdotes. However, Secret Service at the Presidential Museum weren’t very helpful.
The Visitor Center houses a brand new theatre with comfortable seating and a mega sound system. We enjoyed the 20-minute film.
The Site earns less than a perfect score since some exhibits in the Museum were closed for unspecified reasons.
FUN (8/10) Every aspect of the Site was well designed and well executed. The Visitor Center is one floor filled with open space and light. The atmosphere is serene. Visitors are welcome to go anywhere on the grounds, from the stables to the rose garden as they please. The tour was not rushed and just long enough. Everything about the Site and its staff enhanced our experience on one of the first sunny warm days of the season. Happy days are here again indeed.
WOULD WE RECOMMEND? (8/10) Yes. But get there early to have time to see all the Sites in Hyde Park. Four hours flew by at FDR and we would have had just enough time to visit all 3 before the 5 o’clock closing had the Vanderbilt Mansion NHS been fully operational.
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