- Paperback: 160 pages
- Publisher: Mount Ida Press; Edition Unstated edition (June 4, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0962536830
- ISBN-13: 978-0962536830
- Package Dimensions: 10.9 x 8.2 x 0.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,319,985 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The President as Architect : Franklin D. Roosevelt's Top Cottage Paperback – June 4, 2001
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From the Inside Flap
Top Cottage has long been a forgotten presidential landmark. It was built in 1938 by Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a personal retreat- "a small place," he wrote, "to escape the mob" of neighbors and politicians who clamored to see him at Hyde Park. He sketched the plans himself, incorporating the fieldstone walls and sweeping roofs that recall the old Dutch buildings of the Hudson Valley. In front of the stone fireplace FDR buttered teatime toast for Daisy Suckley and friends, and on the wide porch overlooking the Hudson Valley he strategized with Winston Churchill and enjoyed hot dogs with King George VI. A farm road ran through the woods to Val-Kill, Eleanor Roosevelt's own retreat.
Newly restored and now open to the public, Top Cottage joins Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and Poplar Forest as the only homes designed by a U. S. president while in office. It is one of the country's first barrier-free buildings, carefully arranged to accommodate FDR's wheelchair. Top Cottage symbolizes Roosevelt's own desire for independence and solitude, as well as his love of the Hudson Valley.
This book traces the history of Top Cottage and its preservation by the Open Space Institute, the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, and the National Park Service. John G. Waite Associates, Architects, directed the restoration work; their architects have undertaken preservation projects at many other properties associated with U. S. presidents, including Mount Vernon, Blair House, The Octagon, Monticello, the University of Virginia, the Lincoln Memorial, Lindenwald, the Harry S. Truman Library, and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.
About the Author
John G. Waite Associates, Architects, prepared the historic structure report on Top Cottage and directed the restoration work. Their architects have undertaken preservation projects at many other properties associated with U. S. presidents, including Mount Vernon, Blair House, the Octagon, Monticello, the University of Virginia, the Lincoln Memorial, the Harry S. Truman Library and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.
Founded in 1985, Mount Ida Press specializes in books on local history and architecture. Other publications include books on Albany Law School, Yale and Princeton. Mount Ida Press has also published Albany Architecture: A Guide to the City; Ornamental Ironwork: Two Centuries of Craftsmanship in Albany and Troy; and Refusing Ignorance: Pioneers for Black Education in Nineteenth-Century Albany, New York.
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This house is fascinating for several reasons. First, it was designed by Roosevelt himself, with some help from architect Henry Toombs. This is perhaps the first house designed by a president since Jefferson's Poplar Forrest. It also has a barrier-free design for a wheelchair bound inividual--something unheard of in the 1930's. And with the exception of the Little White House is Warm Springs, Georgia, it was entirely his to decorate as he saw fit. Mother and wife had no influence here. FDR was able to use Top Cottage to escape, to entertain friends, and to even host royal dignitaries and important guests. Unfortunately, we know that he never lived out his dream to retire there.
When I ordered this book, based on the price and the description, I expected something of a coffee table-type book. In this regard, it is less than I expected. When the house was purchased in 1997 and before restoration took place, a "historic structure report" was completed. This report is the basis for the book. There are many photographs and drawings, although many are just variations on floor plans. All the photos are black and white. There are several interior pictures from the FDR years, but not nearly enough. One chapter details every room--walls, ceilings, baseboards, appliances, etc. Another lists everything that needed to be done to each and every room. This doesn't exactly make for riveting reading. The few interior pictures after the restoration show only empty rooms, and the reader is left wondering whether the cottage has been furnished or not.
Still, there is much information to be gleamed from this book for readers who are fascinated by the Roosevelt's. The story of the planning and construction of this dwelling is very informative, as well as how the cottage was used once constructed. This book also details the history of the cottage from the time of FDR's death until it was purchased for historic purposes in 1997. The author also goes into great depth about all the work that had to be done to restore the cottage to vintage FDR. While any Roosevelt fan will enjoy this book, it is a little rough going for a novice. Also, I thought the ... price tag a little steep. So while I did enjoy the book for what it was, it ended up being not quite what I expected.