President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, America’s longest-serving president, was afflicted with polio, which brought him to the state of Georgia. Warm Springs’ namesake waters were a retreat for him, so he established the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation and his home, called the Little White House.
He visited nearly every year and it was his time in the rural farming community that inspired many of his New Deal programs. He was staying at the home when he died in 1945 and everything was left almost exactly how it was when he was there. The Little White House has become both a national and state historic site for its historical relevance.
What to See at the Little White House
The site itself is made up of multiple locations so start your journey at the visitor’s center, which has a small museum devoted to Roosevelt’s life in Georgia. It starts with his early life and upbringing in a well-to-do New York family and introduction to politics as an opponent to his cousin Theodore’s run for president.
By the time he became president himself, he’d married distant relative Eleanor and been diagnosed with polio. When he came down to Warm Springs, his neighbors saw him as just another person, not the leader of the free world. Among the more interesting displays are the canes that have been sent from all over the world in honor of him.
After touring the museum, you’ll see the Little White House, which is furnished exactly how it was on his final day. He was having his portrait painted when he collapsed in his chair. Wind your way through the modest home and see where the Secret Service and guests would have stayed on their visits.
The last thing you’ll see is the actual unfinished painting that Madame Elizabeth Shoumatoff was working on at the time. It reminds visitors of a life cut short and the lasting impression Roosevelt had on Georgia and the world.
Also included in the larger historic site is the Warm Springs Historic District and the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation, which still operates. While the pools Roosevelt used are no longer operational or filled with water, your entry fee grants you admission to their small museum that discusses polio and other illnesses treated by these healing waters.
The institute still treats those with spinal cord and other debilitating injuries at the former Meriwether Inn. Downtown you’ll see the original hotel in town where the Roosevelts first stayed as well as a number of shops and restaurants.
Tips for Visiting the Little White House
Roosevelt’s Little White House Historic Site is located at 401 Little White House Road, Warm Springs, Georgia 31830. The site is open daily from 9 am to 4:45 pm except for on national holidays.
Admission is $12 for adults and includes all of the sites at the Little White House and the Historic Pools Museum. Parking is included. Guided tours are also available for an added fee.
Where to Eat Near the Little White House
There aren’t many restaurants in Warm Springs, so most travelers dine at The Bulloch House Restaurant in town. It’s known for its Southern dishes and daily specials, including fried chicken, turnip greens, and cornbread dressing. Next door, Lightnin’ Bugs Cafe and Bakery is a fast-casual option with coffee, pastries, and sandwiches.
Mac’s Bbq is another option with pulled pork sandwiches and plates with Brunswick stew, coleslaw, and baked beans.
Where to Stay Near the Little White House
Hotel Warm Springs Bed & Breakfast Inn is in the heart of downtown in a 1907 building. Guests enjoy daily breakfast, including the popular cheese grits, just as past guests like President Roosevelt did.
Meriwether Country Inn is another option, with free WiFi, coffee makers, and comfortable rooms. Not far from the state park is Mountaintop Inn and Resort, which has an outdoor pool and in-room Jacuzzis.