FDR Hyde Park Foundation Logo
Franklin D. Roosevelt Hyde Park Foundation’s


Issue 1 : 2021

 ‘The New Deal’ was a series of programs, public work projects, financial reforms, and regulations enacted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the United States between 1933 and 1939.

Today, we are using it as the name of our newsletter to inform you of what the Franklin D. Roosevelt Hyde Park Foundation, and our partners, the National Park Service, are working on together to further the preservation and enhancement of the National Historic Sites at Hyde Park, New York. With donations from people like you, we are able to continue this important work.

Thank you for your support!

Kevin Burke
Chair, FDR Hyde Park Foundation

Message from the Superintendent

It has been a joy to get to know all of our employees, partners, and stakeholders during my first year in the park. There is a richness in history and landscapes that provide unending possibilities for programming, recreational experiences, personal reflection, and opportunities to inspire action, and I look forward to digging into these opportunities and raising awareness of these special places.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the parks have been as busy as ever. I am incredibly proud of the work our teams have been doing this last year to continue to preserve and interpret the sites and serve the communities around us. A few of these remarkable projects include:

Springwood Restoration – The park embarked on a large-scale restoration project that included replacing the HVAC system, new intrusion and fire alarms, fresh paint inside, and restored balustrades on the north porch.

Programming – With authorization to re-open our sites in June, the interpretation team jumped into high gear to develop and implement new, safe tour options at Springwood and Vanderbilt Mansion. NPS staff developed self-guided audio tours for visitors to experience in the houses, and we worked with recreation.gov to offer online ticket sales.

Volunteers – This year, we fully welcomed back volunteers to our gardens. In addition to the regular care and planting, the Rose Garden and Gravesite saw some improvements made to the fencing and cleaning up of the hemlock hedge. These outside landscapes and gardens continue to provide wonderful opportunities for visitors and community members to enjoy the grounds.

You can read about all these projects and more in detail below.

In June 2021, we also welcomed back a treasured piano to Eleanor Roosevelt’s home at Val-Kill, in Hyde Park, New York. You can read more about this generous donation here.

In addition to our successes enhancing the property and our programming, in 2021 we celebrated the 75th anniversary of the FDR Estate’s inclusion in the National Park System. Due to restrictions with public visitations, our celebration was virtual which gives us an opportunity to share it with you here.

One lesson that the pandemic has taught us is to be open to new opportunities and new ways of doing things. Our staff and visitors have been incredibly flexible and open this year to new ways of experiencing the parks. I think this opens up new discussions and possibilities of activities and programs that we can develop for next year and future visitors. How might we all re-fresh and re-invent visitors’ connections to these special places? I am looking forward to engaging all of our partner groups in these types of discussions to develop new projects and activities.

Picture of Amy Bracewell, Park Superintendent

Amy Bracewell

Roosevelt • Vanderbilt • Van Buren National Historic Sites

FDR’s Home Gets Major Upgrades

Over the past two years, improvements worth over $3,100,000 have been made to Springwood, the lifelong Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The largest project was the replacement of the HVAC system. An inefficient oil-fired system was replaced with high-efficiency gas boilers. This switch will reduce the carbon footprint of the building by over 30%. The non-historic boiler house on the hillside was removed, and the new equipment was placed in a formerly vacant space in the Laundry building. To ensure the house and its contents are protected, new fire detection and security system were installed.

Since these major upgrades required the house to be closed to the public anyway, it was the perfect time to complete other necessary work. Park museum staff removed the entire contents of the building – thousands of objects and furnishing – and completed deep cleaning of every room on public display. Meanwhile, damaged plaster was repaired, and all the public spaces were repainted, including faux wood grain on the main hall doorways.

The entire exterior was repainted, and a team of skilled craftspeople from the National Park Service Historic Preservation Training Center restored the balustrades on the north section of the roof. Finally, a new accessible path made from porous paving provides a safe route for park visitors to the Home. Porous paving, as its name suggests, helps reestablish a more natural hydrologic balance and reduces runoff volume by trapping and slowly releasing precipitation into the ground instead of allowing it to flow into storm drains and out to receiving waters as effluent. Since water does not collect, there are no icy patches to worry about when winter comes.

Your Dollars at Work!

These improvements were in large part funded by park visitors: 75% of the project cost came from fees collected at National Park Service sites across the country.

Roosevelt Home Garden Report 2021

After a year of limited and mainly remote public outreach, the Landscape and Garden Division of the Roosevelt Vanderbilt NHS was delighted to welcome visitors and groups to the park for in-person tours and activities. Students in the Farm to Table Concentration and the Sustainable Food Systems class from the Culinary Institute of America, members of the Poughkeepsie Public Library book club reading Doug Tallamy’s Nature’s Best Hope, and the staff from Wethersfield Gardens in Amenia, NY were among the groups touring the garden. High school students participating in the City of Poughkeepsie’s Nubian Directions Summer Youth Employment program capped off their season with a visit to the garden for education and career exploration.

Vassar College Community Engaged Learning Fellow, Meg Ritzau, developed an audio tour for the vegetable garden, which has allowed visitors to learn about the garden even when staff is not present. Meg also assembled photos and a script for a new wayside for the garden and updated information for the NPS’s website.

Garden Tour
BLT Lunch

For the past three years, the garden program has participated in meetings of the Hudson Valley Food System Coalition, which focuses on food equity, community health, and sustainability. This participation has enhanced the awareness of food and its availability to those in the Hudson Valley and to all associated with managing the garden.

With a return to on-site programming this year, the first park-wide Roosevelt Home Garden BLT Lunch was hosted! A variety of heirloom tomatoes, lettuce, and a perfectly ripe Tom Watson watermelon were on the menu.


Volunteers play many important roles in the Home Garden. In 2021, 647 volunteer hours were contributed in the gardens at the Home of FDR. As an integral part of the workforce engaged in planting, maintaining, and harvesting, they connect the garden with the community at large in significant and meaningful ways. We look forward to expanding our volunteer corps in 2022.

Garden Volunteers
Garden volunteers working in the garden

Perennial Crops

When the garden was re-established in 2016, park staff recognized that improvements to the soil (reducing compaction and improving soil quality and drainage) were needed prior to the introduction of perennial crops. With the 5-year goal met in this regard, perennial crops were introduced to the garden this year. In spring 2021, asparagus, raspberries, strawberries, and rhubarb were planted. Grapes and currants will be added in 2022.

Perennial crops
Fresh aspberries growing in the garden

Climate, the Environment, and our Garden Strategies

The Landscape and Garden teams are committed to organic practices to fertilize and control pests in the garden. Only pest control products that protect the crops while minimizing human health and environmental risks are used. Choice products and timely applications reduce impacts to beneficial insects, including pollinators. In addition to the weekly organic spray program, a biodegradable film mulch (to control weeds and reduce insect pest populations), kaolin clay (a white, chalky material applied to foliage to reduce heat stress and deter insects), and a fine mesh netting to exclude insect pests, have been integrated into the grading practices. Also, staff and volunteers are trained to recognize plant pests and beneficial insects. This year a large population of helpful blue scolid wasps were found in the garden; these feed on and help to control grubs of Japanese Beetles and June Beetles.

Fine mesh insect netting
Scolid Wasps

The Landscape and Garden Division of the Roosevelt Vanderbilt NHS thanks the Franklin D. Roosevelt Hyde Park Foundation for their continued support of the Home Garden Restoration. Their support ensures the interpretation of an important legacy of the Roosevelt family in Hyde Park and allows us to connect our community and visitors to their stories.

Historic Tree Preservation Program Underway​

Preservation of landscapes is complicated by the fact that they are composed of living things – namely plants that grow, age, and die. It would be easy to preserve the Roosevelt and Vanderbilt Landscapes if everything in the landscape stayed the same. If sunny gardens didn’t become shaded, and shaded areas didn’t become sunny, if environmental factors were stable and agricultural activities never changed, one could maintain a picture-perfect moment in time that exactly captured these families’ lived environments.

Constantly changing landscapes in the natural growth, death, and renewal cycles are regularly maintained. Careful records are kept, and plants are replaced thoughtfully. In the study of historical documents and photos, the choices made by the people whose stories we interpret are honored. In some cases, plants warrant extra thought when considering their ultimate replacement. Throughout the Roosevelt Vanderbilt NHS, there are trees with unique characteristics, stories, or both. If they have grown to champion size and age, they may have genetics contributing to that success. This category includes the Vanderbilt Ginkgo, the Bellefield Carolina Silver Bell, the Val-Kill Red Veined Enkianthus, and the Roosevelt Cucumber Magnolia. Others may have a sentimental aspect, like a seedling from the mighty white oak at the field in front of Springwood that Eleanor Roosevelt brought in a coffee can plant in her yard at Val-Kill, or the heirloom apple varieties in the Roosevelt orchard. In these cases, the ideal replacement of a tree would propagate the historic tree. It is connected generationally to the story that gives it extra importance, and it shares the genetics that contributed to its success.

The entire exterior was repainted, and a team of skilled craftspeople from the National Park Service Historic Preservation Training Center restored the balustrades on the north section of the roof. Finally, a new accessible path made from porous paving provides a safe route for park visitors to the Home. Porous paving, as its name suggests, helps reestablish a more natural hydrologic balance and reduces runoff volume by trapping and slowly releasing precipitation into the ground instead of allowing it to flow into storm drains and out to receiving waters as effluent. Since water does not collect, there are no icy patches to worry about when winter comes.

Your Dollars at Work!

These improvements were in large part funded by park visitors: 75% of the project cost came from fees collected at National Park Service sites across the country.

Vassar Community Fellow, Meg Ritzau, Adds to the Roosevelt Home Garden Offerings

Since the earliest conversations about the reestablishment of the Roosevelt Home Vegetable Garden, the FDR Hyde Park Foundation prioritized the goal that the garden should connect the community to the Roosevelt ideals of sustainability and a quality standard of living for all Americans.

Meg Ritzau
Meg Ritzau

This past summer, The Roosevelt Vanderbilt NHS was fortunate to partner with the Vassar College Community Fellows Program. This program matches unique learning opportunities for students with capacity-building needs for community organizations. In doing so, the program invests in the future of the community through civic engagement.

Vassar College Junior, Meg Ritzau, fully supported horticulture efforts throughout the park under the supervision of the NPS Horticulturists, Anna de Cordova, and Susan MacAvery. After a two-week orientation to the site, Meg selected the Home Garden communications needs for a focused project. With a fresh perspective on the garden, she applied skills in observation and listening to synthesize the information that NPS staff most wanted visitors to understand with the questions visitors most often asked when touring the garden. The result is a new, three-stop audio tour that runs down the central path of the garden, a new article on the Home Garden for the park website, and a plan for a flexible informational kiosk in the Small Space Garden Exhibit.

The Hudson Valley endured a particularly hot and stormy summer that challenged the horticulture team and the gardens immensely. Meg’s curiosity, energy, and work ethic were a gift to the park that allowed the horticulturists to build on the program despite these trying conditions. Meg summarized the impact the program had on her in these words: “The fellowship allowed me to experience horticulture work and historical interpretation, and it was an amazing way to begin exploring the wider Dutchess County community. Harvesting and donating produce to Dutchess Outreach illuminated some of the food security systems in Dutchess County. Additionally, volunteer sessions always provided educational opportunities, park horticulturists were happy to give detailed answers to questions about plant varieties, historical significance, diseases, and maintenance. I hope to emulate this quiet, engaging leadership – it consistently led to a communicative team working to maintain beautiful spaces outdoors.”

You can listen to the audio tour here and read the Home Garden article here.

View and download a PDF of this Newsletter.

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CAITLYN GERMINARO is a Human Services professional whose passion is supporting and advocating for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Caitlyn is currently a Training Specialist for a non-profit organization serving people with disabilities and partnering with communities across 38 counties in New York State. In 2022, Caitlyn received a CP State Annual Conference Staff Recognition Award. She also received the 2023 Leadership Dutchess Community Advocate Award and graduated from the Leadership Dutchess program. Caitlyn holds a BS from The College of Saint Rose and an MS from Walden University. A golfer, gardener, and sunset enthusiast, she lives in Red Hook, NY, with her husband and their two dogs.

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DAVID SCHWARTZ Born in 1951, David grew up in New York City. In 1972, he received his B.S. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance. Following graduation, David began his career with Mikasa, a leader in the Tableware and Housewares industry – first in sales, then in management and as a company principal. Following the company’s initial public offering on the NYSE, David retired from the firm in 1996 and has since made his livelihood as a private investor. Recently, he’s become an active member of the Hudson Valley Start-up Fund, an Investment group that seeks to enable a stronger business ecosystem for entrepreneurs in the Hudson Valley region.

RUDOLPH S. RAUCH is a retired journalist and magazine editor. After graduating with a degree in English from Princeton University in 1965, he worked for two years at Radio Free Europe in Munich, Germany, and attended the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1969, he joined TIME Magazine, where he covered Wall Street; served as European Economic Correspondent, based in Bonn, Germany; was a correspondent in the magazine’s Saigon Bureau for fourteen months; and then spent three years covering South America for TIME, based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Rauch returned to New York as Deputy Chief of Correspondents after a two-year stint as TIME’s Atlanta Bureau Chief. In 1980, he was named the Edward R. Murrow Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and later was Assistant to the Chairman of Time, Inc. Rauch has also served as editor of the quarterly magazine CONSTITUTION, and from 1998 until 2003 was Editor of OPERA NEWS. A long-time director of Scenic Hudson, Inc., Rauch is currently on the board of the Scenic Hudson Land Trust, the Hudson Highlands Land Trust, and the non-profit weekly newspaper, THE HIGHLANDS CURRENT. Rauch is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and lives in Cold Spring, NY.

Evan Jenkins is an architect based in Los Angeles. He serves as Director for Architecture and Development at Atlas Capital Group, a 100-person real estate investment, development, and management firm, with 65 projects between New York and California totaling 14 million square feet and $7 billion in value. Evan holds master’s degrees in architecture from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and real estate development from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University, where he was Glascock and van Beuren Fellow at the Center for Urban Real Estate. A native New Yorker, Evan is a member of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, the American Institute of Architects, and the Urban Land Institute. He is Treasurer for the Harvard Heights Neighborhood Association and an advocate for historic preservation at Hyde Park and beyond.

ERIN HOAGLAND serves as the Director of Conservation for the Dutchess Land Conservancy. She is a lifelong resident of the Hudson Valley with an affinity for the natural world. After graduating from Marist College with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and Policy, she started a career in land conservation. Erin has been able to apply her passions by working to implement and manage conservation projects on both natural lands and working farmland that protect Dutchess County’s invaluable scenic resources. Erin joined the FDR Hyde Park Foundation Board in 2017.

CANNON CARR is Chief Investment Officer for CornerCap Investment Counsel. Prior to joining CornerCap, Cannon was a senior equity analyst at CIBC World Markets (1998-2007), covering IT business services, wireless services, and emerging telecom. Cannon has provided commentary on CNBC, CNN, Lou Dobbs MoneyLine, and Bloomberg News. He has also been quoted in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and Fortune, among other publications. Cannon has an MBA from Columbia Business School and a BA from Princeton University in Political Economy.

CHARLES BUICE serves as President of Tiger Foundation in New York City. The foundation works to help break the cycle of poverty for New York City families by investing in nonprofit human service organizations in the education, employment, youth and families, and criminal justice fields. Previously, Charles worked in the magazine publishing business in San Francisco and New York City. Charles also serves as a Trustee of The Steele-Reese Foundation and is on the board of A Public Space, a nonprofit publishing enterprise, and of Philanthropy New York, a member organization serving the foundation community in and around New York City. Charles has a B.A. from Yale University and an M.B.A. from the Stern School of Business at New York University.

EILEEN COSGRIFF is a Program Manager for Santander Bank in Boston, MA. She leads the US Project Management Office’s business analysis and UAT practices. Prior to Santander, Eileen worked at Deloitte & Touche LLP and Fidelity’s National Financial Services. In addition to work in financial services, Eileen has field experience in architectural history studying Thomas Jefferson’s designs and building methods at Poplar Forest, VA as well as rebuilding homes in New Orleans, LA under the sponsorship of World Monuments Fund. Eileen has a master’s in History of Art and Architecture from Harvard University and a BS in Finance from Providence College. She also volunteers with local community redevelopment organizations, as well the Old North Church, Boston, MA where she and her co-gardeners received the Good Neighbor award in July 2017 for tending to the 18th-century reproduction garden.

G. DAVID PHELPS HAMAR is a Managing Director & Head of Wealth Advisory Services at Chilton Trust. Mr. Hamar advises individuals, trusts, and foundations on a wide variety of financial matters, including portfolio construction, philanthropic advisory, and tax and financial planning. Mr. Hamar is the Founder and Chairman of the Brantingham Preservation Group in the western Adirondack Park, is a Director and Treasurer Emeritus of Virginia Polo at the University of Virginia, and served on the Steering Committee for the formation of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia. Mr. Hamar is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law (1990) and Old Dominion University (1983). Mr. Hamar is admitted to the Virginia State Bar and is a CPA. He resides in Manhattan, Onteora Park, and Brantingham, New York.

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John Winthrop (Wint) Aldrich retired from a career in N.Y. State government and continues his life-long activism in land conservation and historic preservation, especially in the Hudson River Valley. A graduate of Harvard College who served as an Army officer in Vietnam, from 1974 until 2010 Wint held posts on the executive staffs of the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation – in the latter agency as the State’s Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation. Also, Wint has served as a consultant to the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, a unit of the National Park Service.

KEVIN BURKE is a historian, journalist, and documentary film producer. In addition to serving as the director of research at the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University, he is the founder and CEO of Kevin Burke Productions, Inc., a New York–based company, through which he has hosted and produced the award-winning podcast series Your Hometown. Burke’s film credits include working as a producer on the popular PBS series Finding Your RootsMaking Black America: Through the Grapevine (PBS, 2022); the Emmy-nominated series The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This is Our Song (PBS, 2021); and Reconstruction: America after the Civil War (PBS, 2019), winner of the Alfred I. duPont–Columbia University Award. With Henry Louis Gates Jr., Burke is the coauthor of And Still I Rise: Black America since MLK (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2015) and co-editor of the Norton Critical Edition of Solomon Northup’s 1853 memoir, Twelve Years a Slave (W. W. Norton & Co., 2016). Burke graduated from Harvard College in 1998 and from Harvard Law School in 2003. He received his master’s degree in History and Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization from Harvard in 2004 and 2006, respectively. A member of the New York State Bar, Burke serves on several boards, including as chair of the Hudson River Valley Greenway Conservancy. He and his wife, Anna Barranca-Burke, live with their two children in New York City.