FDR loved Georgia, and he was particularly attracted to Warm Springs. He started visiting in 1924, having heard that the mineral springs here would be therapeutic for his polio. The repercussions were enormous, both for the March of Dimes, which FDR founded, and for all the programs of the Great Depression which benefited the farmers and the rural poor whom he came to know after he built a home there.
“The Little White House” is indeed small – just two bedrooms, a big living area, bath and kitchen. There is also a small guest house and separate servant quarters. FDR died here, just as he was having his final portrait painted in 1945. The unfinished and the finished versions both show how drawn and worn he was.
If you’ve been to his home in Hyde Park and seen Val-Kill or Top Cottage this will all look very familiar. Eleanor had the furniture made at by Val-Kill Industries. We were celebrities here because we had actually met and talked with Daisy Suckley, the cousin of FDR who gave him Fala. She was in her 90’s then, and we were touring her home, Wilderstein, with our friend Gail. Don also met Franklin Jr. one time while he was showing his mother and uncle Hyde Park. The guides here followed us around, wanting every nugget of contact they could get with the great man.
We also went to the springs which were used for treatment. They are empty now, but were once filled with polio victims hoping for some improvement.
Then it was off to Macon, where we visited one of the many mansions there, Hay House. On the other side of the social spectrum, we lunched at Fincher’s – a famous BBQ spot that would never win an award for décor, but is rightly known for its food.