Submitted by: Brian Roslund, President, Friends of Roosevelt's Little White House
For years, the original pools designed and built by Franklin D. Roosevelt for therapy from the after effects of polio were neglected. Yet thousands of visitors a year came to see the rundown site. In 1997, the Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) with the help of private donors, renovated and dedicated the pools complex to be a museum that honors the legacy of FDR and his fight against polio.
The grounds around the pools continue to be improved, most recently by the addition of grass and mature crepe myrtles. Though the pools are not kept full, visitors are able to experience the spring water at new basin in the empty pools.
Outbuildings of the pools have also been refurbished to reflect the era of FDR while the museum is devoted to the history of the warm springs. Exhibits chronicle the geology, how early settlers used the springs, the resort era, the treatment of polio and how the waters are used today for therapy. Until recently, Ms. Suzanne Pike, who as a child met FDR when he was a polio patient, worked at the pool as a Ranger/interpreter. Another volunteer, Marion Dunn, knew FDR and was a brace maker at the Warm Springs Foundation.
In 2003, the pools’ foundation was checked and it was decided that they could safely be filled for short periods of time. Over Labor Day weekend, 2003, visitors swam again in the pools. LWH staff sold tickets, ran a small gift shop and sold hot dogs and snacks at a concession stand. With the inception of the non-profit Friends of Roosevelt’s Little White House, the Friends took over the concession stand in 2009.
If once a year is good, twice a year must be better. The pools are now filled for swimming over Memorial Day weekend (May 28-30, 2011) and Labor Day weekend (Sept 3-5, 2011). This is a great opportunity for everyone to experience the incredible warm springs in a very historic setting. All proceeds from the Friends concession stand benefit the historic site through projects of the Friends of Roosevelt’s Little White House.
The swim weekends have been supported by Warm Springs, Manchester and Columbus, Georgia merchants. The Piggly Wiggly in Manchester has supplied soft drinks, Publix on Woodruff Farms Road, Sam’s Club and Walmart on Whittlesley Rd., as well as, the Gateway Walmart in Columbus have all been generous in their support. In addition, Friends of Roosevelt’s Little White House received a gas grill from an anonymous donor which has been very useful at the swims.