Student Orientation to Roosevelt House

Welcome to Roosevelt House!

Roosevelt House was the historic, New York City home of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Franklin’s mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, and since 1941 has been an integral part of Hunter College.

In December 1905, Sara Delano Roosevelt promised a new home to her son and daughter-in law, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, nine months after their marriage.  In December 1908, Franklin and Eleanor moved into No. 49 with their two young children, Anna and James, and Sara took up residence at No. 47. Over the course of the next 24 years, Roosevelt House   It was the site of many events, large and small, that helped shape the course of American history.  It is where FDR recuperated and rebuilt his political career after being struck with polio in 1921, where he planned his cabinet and offered Frances Perkins the position Secretary of Labor after his historic election in 1932, and where Eleanor Roosevelt began her legendary career as an advocate for human rights and social justice. During their time on the Upper East Side, the Roosevelts also became actively involved with their neighbor, Hunter College. In October 1940, President Roosevelt dedicated the new Hunter building, constructed with WPA funds, on Park Avenue. Whenever she was in town, Eleanor would often walk over to visit with students and speak at special events, a relationship that would endure for more than 20 years, ending only with her death in 1962.

After his mother’s death in 1941, President Roosevelt arranged for Hunter College to acquire the house, and it became the Sara Delano Roosevelt Memorial Interfaith House — the country’s first student center dedicated to interfaith and interracial understanding.   After 50 years of use by Hunter College students, however, Roosevelt House fell into disrepair and was shut down in 1992 in need of complete restoration.

Under the leadership of Hunter President Jennifer J. Raab,  that restoration was completed in 2010, and Roosevelt House is now a state-of-the-art facility that serves as the home of Hunter’s Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute, dedicated to undergraduate teaching in public policy and human rights, faculty research in a variety of policy and human rights-related areas, and public dialogue about the most important issues of the day.

New York City’s Public Broadcasting Channel, THIRTEEN, recently created a special episode of their “Treasures of New York” series dedicated to Roosevelt House. Watch the video below to learn more about the house and its history.

Student Space and Resources

The Sara Delano Roosevelt Library (Second Floor, Front-West Side of Building)

Students may use the second floor Sara Delano Roosevelt Library to study and prepare for classes.  The library will generally be available to students during regular business hours (9:00am-5:30pm, Monday-Friday), except when otherwise in use.

The library contains a collection of over 2000 books and journals for student use, on subjects such as presidential history, public policy and human rights.  These books are searchable in the Hunter Library Catalog.  At present, we do not have a system for lending books, though we hope to institute that soon.  In the meantime, if there is a particular book that you would like to borrow, please contact Roosevelt House at Otherwise, books may not be removed from the library.

Please note that Roosevelt House does not have computers or printing services for students.  Students should plan accordingly, and print papers, handouts, and any other materials they may need at main campus or at home, prior to class.

We also encourage students to attend Roosevelt House events and public programs, which are an opportunity to interact with leading writers, policymakers and activists from around the country and the world.  These events are typically open to the public, but they require advance registration. To sign up for our mailing list and receive invitations to our events, please click here.  For more information about Roosevelt House public programs, please visit our upcoming events page.

Food and Drink

Roosevelt House is an historic building and requires special maintenance.  Because of this, we ask that you do not bring food or drink into the house, with the exception of water.

We hope you enjoy your time at Roosevelt House.  If you have any questions about the classrooms or facilities please contact your undergraduate program assistant, or call the Roosevelt House main line at (212) 650-3174.