Video of the Day: FDR Cribs, or How to Trick Out Your Dorm in 1900

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Showing a clear affinity for interior decoration, the future president elaborately decorated his $10,000 student pad.

There aren't many sides of Franklin Delano Roosevelt that haven't been extensively explored, but his apparent status as a metrosexual of the 1900 variety is one. This rather long video describes the restoration of a suite at Harvard University's Adams House in which the future president lived as an undergrad.

Although the space is now in a dorm, it was private accommodation at the time, and Roosevelt -- the scion of a wealthy family -- paid dearly for it. His monthly rent was $400, which doesn't sound too bad until you do the math: with inflation, that comes to around $10,000 per month. And FDR wasn't your typical slovenly college boy. The video excerpts letters between young Franklin and his famously possessive mother Sara, in which he recounts his meticulous and ever-more baroque decoration of the room. Rugs, a William Morris chair, a piano, and riding pants were standard features, while he self-deprecatingly (and rather astoundingly) pronounced the room "inhabitable." Of course, the alternative to these fancy digs was unheated dormitories on Harvard Yard without running water.

The video also includes unusual footage of a pre-polio Roosevelt strolling as a vice presidential candidate.

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David A. Graham

David Graham is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Politics Channel. He previously reported for Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and The National.

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