By 1924, Eleanor Roosevelt had had enough of both her husband’s political cronies and her mother-in-law. She built a weekend retreat for herself two miles east of the family estate, and moved there permanently after FDR’s death in 1945.
Surrounded by fields and woodlands, the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, a.k.a. Val-Kill (Rte. 9G, off Rte. 9, 845/229-9115, www.nps.gov/elro, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily May–Oct., 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Thurs.–Mon. Nov.–Apr., adults $9, children under 17 free) is a simple and rustic place that, compared to Springwood, attracts relatively few visitors.
The former First Lady’s tastes were delightfully unassuming; she used regular china, set up card tables for extra guests at Christmas, and hung family photographs helter-skelter over the cottage’s rough-hewn walls.
Nonetheless, it was in this simple setting that Mrs. Roosevelt drafted the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights and entertained important world leaders such as Nikita Khrushchev, Haile Selassie, Adlai Stevenson, and John F. Kennedy. A photograph of a 40-something JFK and a 70-something Eleanor is prominently displayed in the living room.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition