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Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site


Widely recognized as the most influential woman of her time, Eleanor Roosevelt is the only First Lady with a park site dedicated to her memory. Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, authorized in 1977, preserves Eleanor's personal retreat, which President Franklin D. Roosevelt carved out of a remote corner of his family's Hyde Park estate.

Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site
© National Park Service
The Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site preserves Eleanor's personal
retreat. She is the only First Lady with a park site dedicated to her memory.

A bumpy country lane, passing through fields and woods and over a noisy plank bridge, leads visitors to the two main buildings of the site. Eleanor shared the little fieldstone cottage, built in 1925, with her friends Marion Dickerman and Nancy Cook. A skilled cabinetmaker, Cook designed and built most of the cottage's furniture.

The project was so successful that the trio built a larger building nearby to house a small furniture factory. Until it closed during the Great Depression, Val-Kill Industries hired local people to make handmade furniture. After Franklin's death, Eleanor converted the factory into her private home, and Val-Kill Cottage became a central gathering place for her family.

Today, Val-Kill Cottage is a museum of Eleanor's furnishings and belongings. The original Stone Cottage is the headquarters of the Eleanor Roosevelt Center and is open to the public when not in other use. Highlights of a tour of the grounds include the rose garden, playhouse, swimming pool, and Val-Kill Pond. The site is a memorial to a woman who, though extremely shy, became a powerful voice for human rights. She went far beyond the traditional role of White House hostess and traveled extensively, representing her husband and pushing for legislation to help the weak and disadvantaged. She was the first wife of a President to hold press conferences and write a syndicated column.

When Franklin died, Eleanor told a reporter, "The story is over." But her own story continued. She served as a delegate to the United Nations, and her work earned her the title "First Lady of the World."

Advancing the Role of Women

Eleanor Roosevelt was the first First Lady to hold press conferences, but she only allowed female reporters to attend those candid meetings.

Eleanor believed that the American public had a right to know what the people in the White House were thinking and doing. By inviting only women, however, she helped many female journalists break into the male-dominated world of political reporting.

Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site Information

Address: 4097 Albany Post Road
Hyde Park, NY 12538
Telephone: 800/337-8474
Hours of Operation: Daily, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. May - October except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day
Admission: Val-Kill Guided Tour $8; Ages 15 and under are Free

Learn more about these other national historic sites:

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic SiteClara Barton National Historic Site
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Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site
Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site
Adams National Historic Site
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To learn more about national monuments, memorials, and historic sites, and other travel destinations in North America, visit:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Eric Peterson is a Denver-based freelance writer who has contributed to numerous guidebooks about the Western United States.


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