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Roosevelt House, A Place That Matters

roosevelt house

Roosevelt House, at 47-49 E. 65th St., nominated by Deborah Gardner.

Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt lived in one of these neighboring, interconnected townhouses with their children, and Franklin’s mother Sara lived in the other. It was the Roosevelt’s NYC home base in the years before FDR’s presidency. In March, 1933, FDR delivered his first inaugural address from the drawing room of No. 49: “Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Once the Roosevelts left for the White House, they never returned to live permanently at No. 49, though they continued to use the house when in NYC. After Sara Roosevelt’s death in 1942, the building was sold well below its value to Hunter College — then a women’s college within CUNY — to host meetings and events that promoted interracial and interfaith harmony. Hunter closed Roosevelt House for repair in 1992, but it is only now that sufficient funds have been raised to restore the building. In the fall of 2008, Roosevelt House is scheduled to reopen as a public policy center in honor of the Roosevelts’ legacy.

Charles A. Platt was the architect who created these two mirror-image rowhouses, connected by a central light court. Read about the design and how the Roosevelts used the place in a profile for the PlaceExplorer contributed by Deborah Gardner and Katie McLaughlin.