WARM SPRINGS, Ga. (WRBL) – The Little White House is home to the pools where former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt found rehabilitation and recovery after suffering from the poliovirus, which left him paralyzed from the waist down. Now the site says it’s critical they renovate and preserve the site, but need the donations to do so.
FDR came to Warm Springs, Georgia in 1924 to seek recovery and rehabilitation after being struck by the poliovirus in 1921. Swimming pools filled with 88 degrees, buoyant, and mineral-rich spring waters brought FDR movement in his right leg for the first time in years.
Currently, site officials like President of Friends of the Little White House, Doctor Andrew Jay Murrow, are asking for donations to help preserve and restore these historic pools.
“We’re desperately trying to raise those funds that we can get in here and using the latest state-of-the-art materials to redo it, stabilize it,” said Murrow. “And then so the future generations of Georgians our children, our families for the next 100 years can come down and see this historic pool that president Roosevelt left, left to the state of Georgia.”
The current plans for restoration and preservation would cost about $6 million. Murrow added that these pools draw visitors to the historical site.
“I will tell you that this pool is the number one reason that a lot of people come to the Little White House they want to see where FDR swam to the recovery,” said Murrow.
In 1990 the Department of Natural Resources put about $3 million of work into the pools, but these fixes did not last long said Site Manager Robin Glass.
“When they did that fix it was more of a cosmetic fix, made it look pretty, looked good, looked great,” said Glass. “But it was not a preservation. Now we’re dealing with that today.”
Cracks can be seen all over the three pools, on the floors, walls, stairs, and ramps. Glass said these cracks make the pools unable to hold the 1.2 million pounds of spring water they would be filled with. This is why the site is looking for $6 million to renovate and preserve the pools.
“This property here, this pool complex is the most important structures that we have pertaining to FDR because if it wasn’t for this water he wouldn’t have came here to begin with,” said Glass. “And he wouldn’t have stayed here which lead to the development of the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute, of course, The March of Dimes, the cure for polio, but it all started in this water. That’s why this structure here was so important.”
Glass explained these renovations and preservations are not only necessary to preserve the historical value– there is also danger these pools could collapse into the springs as they deteriorate.
“When you fill these up you’re looking at about 1.2 million pounds of water putting stress down on that spring so the danger is that these pools collapse into that spring,” said Glass. “And that’s why you see all the cracks that you see on the bottom and on the side walls now, but the preservation efforts will fix all that and put them back like they were back when he was here.”
In addition to fixing the structures, they would also add the frame that used to be over one of the pools which allowed FDR to swim in the wintertime. If restored people would be able to swim in the springs on select holidays like Labor Day or Memorial Day Weekend.
If you would like to donate you can go to www.preservethepools.org.