advertisement

This home, which came to be called the "Little White House," a quarter of a mile south of Warm Springs on Ga. 85 West (tel. 706/655-5870; www.gastateparks.org), was built in 1932 for $8,738 -- a modest outlay for a man of Franklin Roosevelt's wealth. This tiny place was once the occasional nerve center of the commander in chief of the nation during the greatest war of all time.

FDR discovered Warm Springs in 1924. He had contracted polio in 1921 and came here for the beneficial effect of the healing waters. Two years later, he bought the springs, hotel, and some cottages and started a foundation to develop facilities for helping paralytic patients from all over the country. Today the house is much as he left it when he died here in 1945. It's open daily from 9am to 4:45pm. Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, $4 for children 6 to 18, and free for children 5 and under.

Also on-site is the FDR Memorial Museum (tel. 706/655-5870), which opened in the spring of 2004, following a $5-million redevelopment. FDR memorabilia is displayed in a modern 12,000-square-foot museum constructed on one level, with special care taken to provide entry for persons who suffer disabilities. The unfinished portrait of FDR that Elizabeth Shoumatoff was painting on the day the president died is on display here. The museum is open daily 9am to 4:45pm. Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, $4 for children 6 to 18, and free for children 5 and under.

An Unfinished Portrait -- Although never completed, one of the world's most famous portraits rests in Warm Springs in FDR's Little White House. He was posing for it shortly before he died on April 12, 1945. In some respects, Elizabeth Shoumatoff's portrait symbolizes Roosevelt's unfinished life, and his unfinished (and unprecedented) fourth term that was filled out by Harry S. Truman. Roosevelt, plagued by ill health, would have continued to face monumental decisions that year if he'd lived. He would have presided over the defeat of the Nazi armies and been faced with the decision of whether or not to drop the atomic bomb (which he'd ordered built) on Japan. After that fateful spring day, Truman had to make those decisions in FDR's place.

The president's ashen pallor and his tired, drawn face are captured in the unfinished portrait, revealing the stress FDR felt at the end of the most destructive war in history. His wife, Eleanor, arrived in Warm Springs shortly after midnight on the day of his death. When she wrote about that night in This I Remember, Mrs. Roosevelt chose not to mention that Lucy Mercer Rutherford, FDR's sweetheart, was with him when he died. However, she later wrote: "All human beings have failings, and all human beings have needs and temptations and stresses." It is Roosevelt's humanity that we remember.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.