Description

    Records and Correspondences Between the Roosevelt family of Hyde Park, New York and the Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation. There are hundreds of pages of records, spanning the complete period from September 26, 1922 to October 30, 1946, a year and a half after FDR's death. The Estate of Franklin D. Roosevelt was administered by FDR's personal attorney Henry T. Hackett, as a preliminary arrangement to the administration of the Roosevelt home and most of the land by the American government. This collection is enormous in assemblage of documents and scope, and contains the complete record of how the Roosevelts managed their utilities at their personal estates at Springwood, Val-Kill, and Top Cottage in Hyde Park, New York. All items in this vast collection are chronologically ordered in a 9" x 12" binder. There are several hundred utilities bills, paid receipts, and ledgers, correspondence back and forth between members of the Roosevelt family and members of their staff and multiple agents, including the President, of the utilities company, as well as maps, blueprints, plans, telegrams, narratives of interviews with FDR and ER, chits dealing with all matters relating to the utilities of FDR's Hyde Park estate, and numerous letters about supplying power to the Roosevelt homes in Hyde Park on the Hudson River in New York, including pages of detailed ledger sheets and information about what power was being consumed when and where on the Roosevelt properties at Hyde Park.

    Included are letters signed by FDR as a private citizen and President of the United States. The first FDR letter, with some 30 words written in his own hand at the bottom of the letter, on his personal Hyde Park, New York letterhead, which is dated September 28, 1922 to Mr. G. A. Voorhees of the utilities company. FDR writes: "Dear Mr. Voorhees:/ The map is o.k. except that no wood road is noted on my side of the creek. There is one at approximately the position of the fourth pole west of the creek. Will you be good enough to have your engineer note this and give adequate clearance?/ Very sincerely yours,/ Franklin D. Roosevelt./ p.s. Would you also be good enough to instruct your men to be very careful not to take out or injure any trees, and especially a great deal of young growth just coming up./ F.D.R." FDR then writes in his own hand: "Also where the cable now comes out at the gate on the west end why do you cross the road to the north side and then re-cross to the south?"

    There is also a two page White House Washington letter date December 10, 1938, with original transmittal envelope, written by FDR to the President of the utilities company, Ernest R. Acker, where FDR references his Top Cottage retreat at Hyde Park, as well as Val-Kill, and his desire to minimize any intrusion of utility poles on his land.

    There are also FDR letters signed by his secretaries, perhaps Louis McHenry Howe and Marguerite A. "Missy" LeHand, as well as letters by Missy LeHand and FDR's other personal secretary Grace G. Tully, one of which, dated January 15, 1942, in the month after America's entry into World War II Miss Tully complains to the utilities company: "The bills seem terribly high because the family is not in residence at the Hyde Park house now and I wonder if you would check and see if you haven't duplicated on some of these bills." There are also "interview" letters by the utilities company that reference dealings with both FDR and ER in which they object to the price of electricity and the cost of providing additional services to their properties, very interesting examples of how FDR and ER did not want to spend a penny more than necessary on their utilities. There are also letters by the Secret Service regarding their work, and the increase in utilities usage as a result, including Michael Reilly, the Supervising Agent of The White House Detail and FDR's trusted friend, and Frank J. Wilson, the Chief of the Secret Service. There are also several letters, including handwritten letters, composed by Eleanor Roosevelt about supplying power to Val-Kill and making sure bills are appropriately paid. Eleanor also signs her husband's name "Franklin D. Roosevelt" on letters to the utilities company, and in one letter provides a very rare example of her full signature "Anna Eleanor Roosevelt".

    This FDR utilities collection offers keen insight into how FDR and his family managed the utilities at his beloved Hyde Park estates, including Springwood, Val-Kill, and Top Cottage, adjoining properties, and the close detail and attention paid by FDR to the costs of his utilities at his Hyde Park estates.


    More Information:

    The extended description below was supplied by the consignor. We are making it available to our web bidders who are interested in more in-depth research and broader historical perspective. Please note that presentation (i.e. framing), lot divisions, and interpretations of condition and content may occasionally differ from our descriptions. Assertions of fact and subjective observations contained in this description represent the opinion of the consignor. These remarks have not been checked for accuracy by Heritage Auctions, and we assume no responsibility for their accuracy; they are offered purely to allow the bidder insight into the way the consignor has viewed the item(s) in question. No right of return or claim of lack of authenticity or provenance based upon this extended description will be granted.

     

    A collection of great and rare historic value, the records and correspondences between the Roosevelt family of Hyde Park, New York and the provider of their utilities, the Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation. There are hundreds of pages of records, spanning the complete period between September 26, 1922, as FDR began his long journey back into politics after battling the continued physical and psychological effects of poliomyelitis, to October 30, 1946, a year and a half after FDR's passing in which the Estate of Franklin D. Roosevelt is then administered by FDR's personal attorney Henry T. Hackett, as a preliminary arrangement to the administration of the Roosevelt home and most of the land by the American government. This collection is enormous in assemblage of documents and scope, and contains the complete record of how the Roosevelts managed their utilities at their personal estates at Springwood, Val-Kill, and Top Cottage in Hyde Park, New York. On September 18, 1908 Sara Delano Roosevelt wrote in her journal: "Electric light is turned on," and even though FDR's mother oversaw the installation of electricity at Hyde Park, this massive assemblage of records show how FDR and ER managed the utilities at Hyde Park to an exacting degree, at the big house of Springwood, as well as Val-Kill, Top Cottage, and their adjoining properties and structures. All items in this vast collection are chronologically ordered in a 9 x 12" binder. There are several hundred utilities bills, paid receipts, and ledgers, correspondence back and forth between members of the Roosevelt family and members of their staff and multiple agents, including the President, of the utilities company, as well as maps, blueprints, plans, telegrams, narratives of interviews with FDR and ER, chits dealing with all matters relating to the utilities of FDR's Hyde Park estate, and numerous letters about supplying power to the Roosevelt homes in Hyde Park on the Hudson River in New York, including pages of detailed ledger sheets and information about what power was being consumed when and where on the Roosevelt properties at Hyde Park. There is also the original article appearing in The New York Times on April 17, 1945 detailing FDR's Last Will and Testament and the provisions of his Estate. Also included are letters signed by FDR as a private citizen and President of the United States. The first FDR letter, with some 30 words written in his own hand at the bottom of the letter, on his personal Hyde Park, New York letterhead, which is dated September 28, 1922 to Mr. G. A. Voorhees of the utilities company. FDR writes: "Dear Mr. Voorhees:/ The map is o.k. except that no wood road is noted on my side of the creek. There is one at approximately the position of the fourth pole west of the creek. Will you be good enough to have your engineer note this and give adequate clearance?/ Very sincerely yours,/ Franklin D. Roosevelt./ p.s. Would you also be good enough to instruct your men to be very careful not to take out or injure any trees, and especially a great deal of young growth just coming up./ F.D.R." FDR then writes in his own hand: "Also where the cable now comes out at the gate on the west end why do you cross the road to the north side and then re-cross to the south?" There is also a two page White House Washington letter date December 10, 1938, with original transmittal envelope, written by FDR to the President of the utilities company, Ernest R. Acker, where FDR references his Top Cottage retreat at Hyde Park, as well as Val-Kill, and his desire to minimize any intrusion of utility poles on his land. FDR writes: "Dear Mr. Acker:–/ Thank you for your very nice letter of December seventh. My new cottage on top of Dutchess Hill is a good deal nearer Cream Street than it is to the Val-Kill cottage, and I concluded, therefore, that it would be much easier to make the connection with your Cream Street distribution line. Frankly, I would rather not have a two-way tie-up because I want to avoid poles through the very rough woods that lie between the new cottage and the Val-Kill cottage./ From the new cottage to Cream Street will require, I think, only fifteen poles, but from the new cottage to Val-Kill, at a guess, would require between twenty and twenty-five poles./ Last Autumn I asked two contractors to figure on a line from the new cottage to Cream Street and they both reported that they had to get their poles from the Central Hudson at a cost of $40.00 per pole. Therefore, I got the specifications and have already cut and skinned eighteen poles from my own woods – hemlock, thirty to thirty-five feet long. These poles are stored under cover for the Winter for the purpose of drying out and it had been my intention to creosote them thoroughly in the Spring and set them out with my own labor. I figure that the cost of cutting, skinning, creosoting and setting-up will run a little under $10.00 per pole./ The three extra poles are intended to be put up to connect a line from Van Wagner Road into what is known as the Hughson farm house. This is a short connection from your Van Wagner Road extension through Violet Avenue./ The poles are there and ready to be creosoted and set out so what do you think I had better do?/ Very sincerely yours,/ Franklin D. Roosevelt." "Creosote" was incorrectly spelled in several places in the letter, and corrected in each instance by hand. There are also FDR letters signed by his secretaries, perhaps Louis McHenry Howe and Marguerite A. "Missy" LeHand, as well as letters by Missy LeHand and FDR's other personal secretary Grace G. Tully, one of which, dated January 15, 1942, in the month after America's entry into World War II Miss Tully complains to the utilities company: "The bills seem terribly high because the family is not in residence at the Hyde Park house now and I wonder if you would check and see if you haven't duplicated on some of these bills." There are also "interview" letters by the utilities company that reference dealings with both FDR and ER in which they object to the price of electricity and the cost of providing additional services to their properties, very interesting examples of how FDR and ER did not want to spend a penny more than necessary on their utilities. There are also letters by the Secret Service regarding their work, and the increase in utilities usage as a result, including Michael Reilly, the Supervising Agent of The White House Detail and FDR's trusted friend, and Frank J. Wilson, the Chief of the Secret Service. There are also several letters, including handwritten letters, composed by Eleanor Roosevelt about supplying power to Val-Kill and making sure bills are appropriately paid. Eleanor also signs her husband's name "Franklin D. Roosevelt" on letters to the utilities company, and in one letter provides a very rare example of her full signature "Anna Eleanor Roosevelt." There are also letters signed by Miss Nancy Cook, ER's friend and business associate at Val-Kill industries, several by Mrs. Cook and ER on Democratic State Committee, Women's Division stationery, Mrs. Henrietta Nesbitt, The White House cook whose culinary preparations FDR despised, but did not have the heart to fire, Henry T. Hackett, FDR's attorney and later executor of his Estate, as well as letters from several utilities-related industries about the powering of Hyde Park, and the installation of power-related equipment, including Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company, Railway and Industrial Engineering Company, and the General Electric Company. What a database of records, a one of a kind treasure trove of primary source documents related to utilities issues of the Roosevelts at Hyde Park, New York, during a twenty four year period, including FDR's entire career as Governor of New York, and President of the United States of America, including the arrangements made after FDR's passing on April 12, 1945. In 1900, three men – Thaddeus Beal, his father William R. Beal and John Wilkie – purchased two companies which provided 5,000 Newburgh, New York customers with electricity and gas. It was a bold move in 1900 to reach beyond the economic activity and commerce of the city into a sparsely populated region, but Beal, Wilkie and their associates recognized the need for consolidation of the many separate electric and gas companies serving our region, as well as providing a new level of centralized, efficient customer service. Over the next 25 years these men realized their vision. With the emergence of new energy technology and through the consolidation, acquisition and merger of 80-plus independent electric and gas companies, the Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation was formed. During the time when FDR's utilities were under the control of Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation, he was a crusader for the public generation and distribution of power, which culminated with the establishment of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in 1933. FDR needed innovative solutions if the New Deal was to lift the nation out of the depths of the Great Depression. And TVA was one of his most innovative ideas. Roosevelt envisioned TVA as a totally different kind of agency. He asked Congress to create "a corporation clothed with the power of government but possessed of the flexibility and initiative of a private enterprise." On May 18, 1933, Congress passed the TVA Act. Right from the start, TVA established a unique problem-solving approach to fulfilling its mission-integrated resource management. Each issue TVA faced – whether it was power production, navigation, flood control, malaria prevention, reforestation, or erosion control – was studied in its broadest context. TVA weighed each issue in relation to the others. From this beginning, TVA has held fast to its strategy of integrated solutions, even as the issues changed over the years. FDR faced similar issues in the public generation and distribution of electric power when he served as Governor of New York, and his dealings with the private power interests and the Republican-controlled New York State Senate under Senator John Knight. FDR wanted the State of New York to start producing and distributing electric power to lower prices and allow more homes in outlying areas in New York to have access to the power grid. FDR's plan did not sit well with the powerful House of Morgan and the private Niagara-Hudson power utility interests, who exercised significant control via the Republican party, both nationally under President Herbert Hoover and the United States Senate, which must approve the necessary treaty implications of the international plan, as well as locally in the New York state legislature. FDR maneuvered the Republicans in the state legislature into a corner in which the Governor ultimately triumphed in a masterful public relations move by which he accepted a plan for the State of New York to become involved in the public power business and dam construction by accepting conditions that the state Republican leadership thought the Governor would never accept. Related to this extensive FDR utilities collection is a collection of letters and other correspondences by FDR to his associates when he was Governor of New York that are also part of this FDR Collection that address FDR's strategy on significant public power issues. This FDR utilities collection is a comprehensive collection of the literal (as opposed to political) power situation at Hyde Park during the majority of FDR's life in public office, from the time when he was a private citizen beginning his journey back into public life after battling poliomyelitis to his entire long Presidency, even after his passing on April 12, 1945. Included are multiple signed letters from FDR and ER as well as many important associates, and keen insight into how FDR and his family managed the utilities at his beloved Hyde Park estates, including Springwood, Val-Kill, and Top Cottage, adjoining properties, and the close detail and attention paid by FDR to the costs of his utilities at his Hyde Park estates, a truly fabulous personal collection of primary documents pertaining to the powering and maintenance of FDR's Hyde Park on the Hudson River in New York during a twenty four year period.



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    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    7th Saturday
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