Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites
Press Releases 2003 - Little White House

Press Release Table of Contents - 2003 Archives:

A Photograph of Construction of the new Museum, October 2003
Highlights of the new Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial Museum
Museum Architects, Contractors and Designers
Georgia’s National Public Policy Connection
Warm Springs, Georgia
Georgia’s “Little White House”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Bio



A Photograph of Construction of the new Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial Museum, October 2003

Highlights of the new Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial Museum at the Little White House Historic Site, Warm Springs, Ga.

Projected opening April 2004

Proposed points of interest include:

1. Orientation Area           

a. Introduction of exhibit theme
b. Site Map
c. “What’s On” highlights current programs
d. FDR Timeline is a large multimedia/graphic area where key periods in FDR’s life are identified. Other areas contain mini timelines that are referenced from this main timeline.
e. Acknowledgement of contributors and benefactors

2. Theater
– 75-seat auditorium and 15-minute film

3. In the main exhibit area, the first display begins with FDR’s Early Years:
a. Timeline relating to important dates in his early lif
b. Roosevelt Family Tree
c. Family Portrait
d. Images of FDR as a country squire in Hyde Park

4. FDR the Politician:

a. Broad overview of FDR’s political life: Senate, Secretary of the Navy, Governor, President
b. Timeline with key dates in his political career
c. Polio, public reaction and its effects upon FDR
d. Interactive display of weights to show how much FDR’s braces weighed
e. Exhibits on the Great Depression, the New Deal, and Pearl Harbor
f. A Great Depression era kitchen atmosphere where visitors may listen to speeches and Fireside Chats via an old fashion radio
g. Flip books with more in-depth information

5. A Warm Springs Memoir: FDR Our Neighbor includes:

a. The Splendid Deception connects the polio story from above with FDR coming to Warm Springs.  Exhibits explain how he was able to re-enter the political world while helping others
b. 1938 Ford convertible and interactive display of his hand controls used for driving
c. Timeline of key dates FDR’s spent at Warm Springs
d. Testing The Waters interactive exhibit where guests can feel the difference between a warm spring and a cold sprin
e. Explanation of the naturally warm springs and images of FDR at the pools
f. Life In Georgia depicts how the South influenced FDR’s decision making and his government programs designed to help the “Forgotten Man”
g. Warm Springs and The Great Depression are connected as FDR saw the south in an economic depression before the 1929 crash.
h. FDR Our Neighbor examines Roosevelt in a non-political way. He wrote newspaper articles and books, and was a “doctor,” “architect,” “scientist,” philanthropist and conservationist.
i. Thanksgiving exhibit includes FDR’s carving set and photos of him at the head of a table, carving a turkey with the children gathered around him

6. Eleanor – This area introduces Mrs. Roosevelt as “First Lady of the World,” focusing on her political and charitable work, and illustrating how people of the world admired her.

7. FDR’s Inner Circle –
An exhibit of the most important people in FDR’s life, including his mother, Sarah Delano Roosevelt, Louis Howe and Missy LeHand.

8. Legacy
– Murals and flipbooks examine the importance of FDR at local, national and international levels

9. Exit Experience – After visitors tour the museum and the Little White House, they enter a room commemorating April 12, 1945, the day FDR died.  Exhibits include the famous Unfinished Portrait, a multimedia projection of the funeral procession, and explanations of how his death affected U.S. citizens during World War II and the world.

While posing for a portrait on April 12, 1945, FDR suffered a stroke and died a short while later. Today, the "Unfinished Portrait" is featured in the new museum scheduled to open April 12, 2004. This $6 million facility will showcase many exhibits, including FDR's 1938 Ford convertible with hand controls, Fireside Chats playing over a 1930s radio, his stagecoach and a theater. Visitors can tour FDR's home, which has been carefully preserved very much as he left it, the servants and guest quarters, and the nearby pools complex that first brought the future president to Warm Springs.

Towards the end of World War II, FDR traveled to Warm Springs to relax and re-capture what he termed "The Spirit of Warm Springs". While posing for a portrait on April 12, 1945, FDR suffered a massive stroke. A short while later, the world learned that President Roosevelt had died in his beloved Little White House. Opened as a national shrine in 1948, visitors can tour FDR's home, which has been carefully preserved very much as he left it. The Servants' Quarters and Guest Quarters, along with the President's 1940 Willys Roadster are located within the historic area. Today, the "Unfinished Portrait" is featured in the new Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial Museum scheduled to open April 12, 2004. This $6 million facility will showcase many exhibits, including many personal items, his leg braces and the famous 1938 Ford convertible with hand controls which he designed. Listen to Fireside Chats playing over a 1930s radio, learn about the New Deal programs, see his stagecoach and a view a short film in the theater. The Pools Complex, which FDR purchased and redesigned for polio patients, is a short distance away. There, visitors can experience the 88-degree water and tour the museum that chronicles the history and geology of these remarkable waters.


Museum Architects, Contractors and Designers

Architect: Hecht, Burdeshaw, Johnson, Kidd and Clark, Inc.
Telephone: 706-323-1814
Founded: 1960, Columbus, Georgia
Chairman: Edward C. Burdeshaw
President and CEO: Robert N. Kidd
Office Location: Columbus, Georgia

Mission: To combine superior design with personalized service adopting the latest tools and technology to insure that we offer design solutions and services that are functional, diverse and distinct.

Notable Georgia Projects:
Columbus Museum, Columbus, Georgia
Port Columbus Civil War Naval Museum, Columbus, Georgia
The RiverCenter for the Performing Arts, Columbus, Georgia
AFLAC Corporate Office Campus, Columbus, Georgia
Coca-Cola Space Science Center, Columbus, Georgia
TSYS Production Offices, Columbus, Georgia
1996 Olympic Softball Stadium, Columbus, Georgia

Contractor: Batson-Cook Company
Telephone: 706-643-2500
Founded: 1915, West Point, Georgia
Incorporated: 1916, West Point, Georgia
Chairman and CEO: Edmund C. Glover
President and COO: Raymond L. Moody, Jr.
Office Locations: Atlanta, Georgia - Jacksonville, Florida - Tampa, Florida - West Point, Georgia
2003 Safety EMR: .76

Notable Georgia Projects:
Callaway Gardens
The Southern Pine Conference Center
Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center
John A. Sibley Horticulture Center
Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl
Chateau Elan Hotel & Spa Additions and Renovations, Braselton, GA
The Galleria Specialty Mall
Augusta Riverfront Conference Center and Hotel
Fuqua Conservatory

Exhibit Designer: LORD Cultural Resources Planning and Management Inc.
Telephone: 416-928-9292
President: Gail Dexter Lord
Vice President: Barry Lord
Office Locations Worldwide

Notable Georgia Projects:
National Infantry Museum, Columbus, 2001-Ongoing
Tuskegee Airmen Gallery, Fulton County Aviation Museum, Atlanta, 2001-02
Thomasville Cultural Center, Thomasville, 1998-99
Savannah Science Museum, Savannah, 1994

Exhibit Fabricator: Southern Custom Exhibits
Telephone: 1-888-378-9115
Founded: 1989 by Elvin H. Morrow
President: Greg B. Morrow
Location: 1416 Commerce Boulevard - Anniston, Alabama 36207

Specializing in: Exhibit Design, Fabrication & Installation of wayside exhibits, illustrations & murals, portable exhibits, signs, multimedia audio/visual and digital imaging services for museums and tradeshows.

Customers Include: The National Park Service, many state and local government agencies as well as private sector institutions.

Georgia’s National Public Policy Connection

During his many visits to Warm Springs, Ga., Franklin Delano Roosevelt witnessed the impact of the Great Depression on his rural neighbors first-hand – first as governor of New York and then as president of the United States. Within the walls of his Little White House in west central Georgia, Roosevelt conceived many of the visionary, far-reaching New Deal programs that lifted the country out of the Great Depression.

It was there that Roosevelt discovered that while Manhattan residents began receiving power from a central station electric system in 1882, only one in 10 rural homes enjoyed electric service in the mid-1930s. Power companies could not afford to build miles of electric lines only to serve a handful of customers. To rectify this, Roosevelt created the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) in 1935 to provide loans to power companies to extend their lines into rural America, and in 1936, created the customer owned electric co-op with the passage of the Rural Electrification Act.

Similarly, Roosevelt’s time in rural Georgia inspired the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). TVA established a unique problem-solving approach to fulfilling its mission – integrated resource management – regarding issues such as power production, navigation, flood control, malaria prevention, reforestation and erosion control. In the 1930s, TVA developed fertilizers, taught farmers how to improve crop yields, and helped replant forests, control forest fires and improve habitat for wildlife and fish. Many techniques for improving livestock breeding, crop rotation and reforestation were developed and demonstrated near the Little White House. Like the REA, TVA also helped bring electricity to the region by building electricity-generating dams, bringing amenities like electric lights and modern appliances to farms, and attracting new industries, and therefore jobs, to the region.

It was during his stays in Warm Springs that Roosevelt witnessed first-hand the plight of rural Americans and envisioned many of the New Deal programs he designed to stimulate the economy and lift the country out of the Depression. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), for example, was conceived at the Little White House. Designed to enlist 250,000 men in an effort to "preserve the natural resources of these United States," the CCC, often referred to as “Roosevelt’s Tree Army,” worked on a variety of projects including reforestation, the construction of roads and fire control trails, erosion control, and forest fire prevention and fighting. The CCC’s impact in Georgia is most noticeably measured by the structures still standing, including the cottages, stone buildings and Liberty Bell swimming pool at F.D. Roosevelt State Park as well as other structures at Cloudland Canyon and Fort Mountain state parks and more than a dozen other parks and attractions across the state.

Warm Springs, Georgia

Warm Springs Village

Located just an hour south of Atlanta, the town of Warm Springs, Ga., is surrounded by rolling hills and freshwater springs and is rich in Southern charm and hospitality. Warm Springs Village features more than 60 stores offering an assortment of antiques, crafts and other fine collectibles. Century-old buildings on the main street have been renovated to house these specialty shops each retaining a distinctive look and feel. 

Visitors enjoy a variety of accommodations, including the Meriwether Country Inn and the Grand Wisteria Plantation, as well as renowned fried chicken and fried-green tomatoes at the beautiful Bulloch House Restaurant. Nearby are the famous Callaway Gardens, Day Butterfly Center and golf resort.


Therapeutic Waters

The known history of the warm springs in the area begins with the Native Americans, whose tribal confrontations often led injured warriors to the water at the base of Pine Mountain for what they considered to be healing properties.  In the years that followed white settlement, the springs gave rise to a spa, where water emerging at 900 gallons-per-minute and 88 degrees year-round transformed the area into a well-known stagecoach stop.  Influential southern leaders like John C. Calhoun of South Carolina and Henry Clay of Kentucky were said to have visited the therapeutic baths before the Civil War.  A large public swimming pool was also installed to permit better access to the warm, buoyant waters, and Warm Springs became host to Georgia’s high society through the early 20th century.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt first visited the springs in October 1924, and although he never regained use of his legs without braces, his therapy in the spring water provided much-needed relief from polio and improved his weakened muscles. He ultimately built a second home there, which became known as the Little White House, and established the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation, a world-renowned polio therapy center. In 1974, the state assumed operation of the foundation and turned it into a state-of-the-art medical rehabilitation facility that today specializes in brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke, orthopedic and general rehabilitation services.  In 1980, the separate medical and vocational programs were merged into one comprehensive state-managed rehabilitation facility. 

Georgia’s “Little White House”

For more than two decades, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, our nation’s 32nd president, visited west central Georgia for rest, relaxation and to experience the therapeutic properties of the area’s warm springs. For the first seven years that Roosevelt visited Warm Springs, Ga., for polio therapy, he stayed in various rental cottages. While governor of New York, he oversaw construction of his own six-room, white clapboard home on the north slope of Pine Mountain. Finished in the spring of 1932 at a cost of $8,738.14, the casual style and furnishings of what has become known as the Little White House have been carefully preserved over the years. It was also the only home that he purchased himself.

When Roosevelt won the 1932 election, the Little White House doubled as a presidential retreat. In addition to bathing in the area’s therapeutic springs, Roosevelt often entertained high-ranking officials and foreign dignitaries here. It was during his stays in Warm Springs that he witnessed first-hand the plight of rural Americans and envisioned many of the New Deal programs he designed to stimulate the economy and lift the country out of the Great Depression. It was also at the Little White House, while having his portrait painted, that he suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage and died in 1945.

The museum building at the Little White House was originally the summer home of the late Georgia Wilkins. At the time of her death in 1959, she bequeathed it and the surrounding land to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Warm Springs Memorial Commission, and in 1961, the house was dedicated formally as a museum. The exhibits chronicle Roosevelt’s life and family, displaying personal items from his home and a collection of gifts sent to him from all over the world. Other displays depict his role in this country's recovery from the Great Depression, his leadership during World War II and his personal struggle against polio. The museum also shows a brief newsreel-type film, "A Warm Springs Memoir of Franklin D. Roosevelt," compiled of footage from home movies of FDR filmed at the Little White House in the 1920s and 1930s.

With more than 120,000 visitors annually, Roosevelt’s Little White House draws more visitors than any of Georgia’s other state historic sites. Its museum has been housed in Wilkins’ former summer home, a less than ideal space, for more than 40 years. To create a more meaningful museum experience for visitors, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has launched a dynamic public-private partnership to build a new museum and visitor center for Roosevelt’s presidential retreat. The 18,000-square-foot museum will be located directly behind the historic entry building and will be constructed on one level, providing accessibility to all visitors. In addition, the Little White House plans to upgrade its facilities for researchers and archivists, fulfilling Roosevelt’s dream of making the records of the past available "for the use of men and women in the future."

To make the new museum a reality, the DNR has projected capital requirements of $6 million. The state of Georgia has committed $2.5 million to this project, and lead gifts from foundations and corporations have led the campaign to the $5 million mark — well on the way to meeting the DNR’s goal. With the support of all Georgians and Americans who want to help interpret this part of our history, the DNR can raise the final $1 million needed to open the new museum.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Born in 1882 in Hyde Park, N.Y., Franklin Delano Roosevelt played a pivotal role in this country’s history. A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School, Roosevelt followed in the footsteps of his fifth cousin, President Theodore Roosevelt, and began a life of public service at a very young age. FDR was elected to the New York Senate in 1910. He was later appointed assistant secretary of the Navy by President Woodrow Wilson and was the Democratic nominee for vice president in 1920. In 1928, he was elected governor of New York, and in 1932, Roosevelt became the 32nd president of the United States at the height of one of the nation’s most trying times, the Great Depression.

The only president elected to serve four terms, Roosevelt made a number of sweeping changes during his administration, including the passage of the New Deal, which established several new programs to bring recovery to business and agriculture and relief to the unemployed and destitute; the creation of Social Security; the establishment of new controls over banks and utilities; and the formation of an enormous work relief program for the unemployed. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Roosevelt led the United States into World War II.

In 1921, prior to being elected president, Roosevelt was diagnosed with poliomyelitis, also known as “infantile paralysis,” which ultimately rendered his legs useless. As part of his therapy, Roosevelt frequently visited Warm Springs, Ga., to bathe in the warm waters. In 1932, only months before he was elected president, he built what has become known as the Little White House, his own six-room, white clapboard home on the north slope of Pine Mountain. It was here, while having his portrait painted, that he suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage and died in 1945.


Media Contacts:

Kim Hatcher, Public Affairs Coordinator, Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites: 404-657-9855, email:

Mary Thrash, Assistant Manager, Little White House: 706-655-5870, email:

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