Group Sees Treasures of the Churchill-Roosevelt Relationship at Newly Renovated Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum
A group of Churchillians, led by Churchill Centre Executive Director Lee Pollock, recently visited the newly renovated Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, NY. Participants in the specially organized private tour included Randolph Churchill, great-grandson of Sir Winston Churchill, and his sister Jennie Churchill Repard, leading historian Sir David Cannadine, the Director of the Churchill Archives Centre and of The Churchill Centre U.K. Allen Packwood and Sean Sawyer, Executive Director of the Royal Oak Foundation, the U.S. arm of the National Trust which operates Winston Churchill’s country home Chartwell.
The Library and Museum recently reopened after a comprehensive three-year $35 million renovation, the most significant since the Library was built by President Roosevelt in 1941. The Museum exhibits are now installed in a new $6 million facility, which tells the story of the Roosevelt presidency beginning in the depths of the Great Depression and continuing through the New Deal and World War II. Special interactive displays, immersive audio‐visual theaters, and rarely seen artifacts convey the dramatic story of Franklin Roosevelt and his relationship with the American people and the world.
Highlights of the visit included the interior of the historic Roosevelt Home, Springwood, purchased by his father in 1867, the newly renovated Archives and the state-of-the art exhibits in the new Museum. Another stopping point in the Library grounds was the oversize bust of Churchill by Oscar Nemon in “Freedom Court” which also includes a bust of Roosevelt by Walter Russell, and BreakFree (created by Churchill’s granddaughter and Churchill Centre Board Member Edwina Sandys from sections of the Berlin Wall.) The Nemon bust is a variation of a similar work recently donated by The Churchill Centre to the national sculpture collection in the U.S. Capitol.
The visiting group was given the rare opportunity to inspect unique and important original historical documents detailing the relationship between Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. These included the December 1940 letter from Churchill to Roosevelt that resulted in Lend-Lease, the telegram announcing the Atlantic Charter on which Roosevelt signed both men’s names and the 1944 “Tube Alloys” aide memoire initialed by Roosevelt and Churchill at Hyde Park that set the terms for the sharing of nuclear technology. Other iconic documents viewed were the 1939 letter from Albert Einstein to Roosevelt that launched the Manhattan Project and Roosevelt’s original draft of the famous “Day of Infamy” speech given after the attack at Pearl Harbor.
Churchill Centre Director Lee Pollock noted, “We were incredibly fortunate to enjoy the gracious hospitality of the FDR Library team and to see such priceless treasures from the lives of two of the greatest statesmen of modern times. Our visit was truly ‘living history’ and a great inspiration for The Churchill Centre as we move forward with planning for the National Churchill Library and Center in Washington, DC.”
Randolph Churchill commented, “Jennie and I were very taken by seeing the great President’s burial place where Winston went to pay homage to his friend in 1946. It is due to these great leaders that in the darkest hour the flame of democracy was kept ablaze and the foundations of the modern world were laid. Although their relationship was not always easy, their friendship and mutual admiration endured and Winston on leaving 10 Downing Street in 1955 told his last cabinet meeting ‘Never be separated from the Americans'”.
The visit was hosted by FDR Library Supervisory Archivist Robert Clark, the Museum Curator Herman Eberhardt, and Dr. David Woolner, Senior Fellow and Resident Historian of the Roosevelt Institute.
The FDR Library and Museum is located approximately two hours north of New York City and is open to the public. Further information is available here.