A Tour Through the Suite Where FDR Lived

Agnes K. Sibilski

The FDR suite—the room where Franklin D. Roosevelt, class of 1904, lived—was recently renovated and restored by The FDR Suite Foundation. To commemorate the restoration, the Harvard Alumni Association offered a tour today called “Presidential Pathways: Tracing TR and FDR at Harvard,” guided by Foundation President Michael D. Weishan ’86.

Naturally, we decided to take a look. 

After getting a quick peek at where the apartment of Theodore Roosevelt, class of 1880, was located (which actually was where the Malkin Athletic Center is now), the tour took us to room B-17 of Adams House in Westmorly Court—the famous FDR suite.

Roosevelt's suite was equipped with all the latest innovations of his time, including central heat, electricity, and a modern “hygienic” bathroom. With over 600 square feet of living space spread over four rooms, the suite, which boasted luxuries such as a working fireplace, cost him $500 per year during a time when tuition was only $150 per year.

“Westmorly Court was the place to live, if you could—and FDR enjoyed living quite the life," Weishan said.

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Weishan said that the rooms are slowly being filled with furniture reminiscent of the era when Roosevelt, the former U.S. president who also was president of The Crimson, lived in order to create "the only existing memorial to the former President at Harvard, as well as a living museum of daily college life at the turn of the 20th century."

Adams House Master John G. "Sean" Palfrey '67, who is also the great-grandson of Theodore Roosevelt, said that this renovation is less for Adams House than it is for the whole academic community, “though it's fun to have it here, and it has been a very interesting project for many of us personally.”

“Our hope is that we can educate generations of students about FDR, about the history of Adams House, Westmorely Hall and the Gold Coast, and Cambridge and Harvard in that era," he said.

The FDR Suite Foundation and the Palfreys will eventually allow the suite to be rented at $150 a night. The official opening with University President Drew G. Faust, the honorary chair of The FDR Suite Foundation, will be in February.

Photos by Agnes K. Sibilski/The Harvard Crimson.

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