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

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.

Presented by

David A. 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.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Politics

Just In