A Roosevelt Family Christmas
Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt were married in the spring of 1905. For Christmas that year, Franklin’s mother gave the newlyweds this sketch of a double townhouse she planned to build in New York City - one side for her and the other for them. Completed in 1908, the house had connecting doors on several floors.
-from the FDR Library
Lady Bird’s Beautification of Washington D.C.
Beautification Luncheon in the State Dining Room of the White House. Secretary Stewart Udall, Lady Bird Johnson, and Laurance Rockefeller looking at an architectural model of the Washington DC Mall area. 4/27/67.
Before and After: The White House Kitchen
A group of people tour the newly renovated White House kitchen during the Truman administration. 3/23/52.
Part of the money spent on the renovation included making sure that all of the technology and appliances in the White House were top of the line for the time.
Pictured below: East view in kitchen, during White House renovation. The brickwork for the fireplace and the tile partition south wall have been completed. In the foreground is the line of the tile partition wall between kitchen and pantry. 1/24/51.
-from the Truman Library
George H.W. Bush visits the life-size sculpture of Franklin D. Roosevelt seated in a wheelchair at the FDR Memorial in Washington, D.C.
The FDR Memorial was first dedicated on May 2, 1997. Landscape architect Lawrence Halprin had designed the memorial with special attention to accessibility, however, the original design did not include a statue of FDR in a wheelchair. The 32nd President had used one after his legs were paralyzed from polio in 1921.
Advocates for the disabled protested that there should be an accurate depiction of FDR. A statue of FDR in a wheelchair would, they argued, increase awareness of disability history and of the accomplishments of people with disabilities.
President Clinton agreed, and sent legislation to Congress to modify the memorial with a sculpture of FDR in his wheelchair. The statue was unveiled in January 2001, and now greets visitors at the entrance to the FDR Memorial.
Photo: George H.W. Bush, Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, advocates for the disabled Michael Deland and Alan Reich, and other dignitaries visit the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial. 2/12/03.
FDR’s Accessibility Designs
The FDR Library was conceived and built under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s direction during 1939-41.
Because a 1921 attack of polio had left Roosevelt paralyzed from the waist down, FDR primarily used personally-designed wheelchairs for daily mobility. Since he intended to personally and regularly use the vast collection of papers and manuscripts housed in the archives at the Library, he made sure the storage area aisles were built wide enough to accommodate his wheelchair.
He also personally designed the document storage boxes initially used to house his papers. To enable his own lap-top style reading while in the storage areas, a special box type was created that could lie flat on the shelf, open in a clam-shell fashion, and act as a sort of paper tray. Read More
Pictured, an archivist in the FDR Library archival stacks, circa 1950. The document boxes were designed by FDR.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men."
-Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence 1776
Today in history, President Franklin D. Roosevelt lays the cornerstone for the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C. November 15, 1939.
This memorial to our 3rd president was designed by architect John Russell Pope (who also designed the National Archives building in Washington D.C. about a decade earlier).
Pope looked to the architectural tastes of Jefferson to create the Memorial. Jefferson himself had introduced the Classical circular colonnade style to the United States, and Pope used the motif to to convey the spirit of this founding father.
The quote above is among multiple passages that appear on the panels in the Memorial.
Here’s a photo of the Jefferson Memorial illuminated at night during President Truman’s inaugural celebration, January 20, 1949.
It’s the birthday of The White House. Today in 1792, the cornerstone of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was laid. For over 200 years, the home of our presidents has made it through fires, structural renovations, and a constant rotation of inhabitants and decorators.
Check out this comparison view of The White House before and after a controversial update was installed - the balcony of the South Portico.
When President Truman arrived at the White House, awnings were used to shade the south side. Truman believed that a balcony would add space and grace, and consulted with architects to install one. Traditionalists cried foul, and political cartoons lampooned Truman for his choice. Nonetheless, when the addition was completed in 1948, it was widely agreed that the “Truman Balcony” was an improvement after all.
-from the Truman Library
What do you think of this White House renovation?