Press/Journalists

Press Release
May 13, 2002


A New Deal for Visitors: Henry A. Wallace Visitor, Education, and Conference Center Groundbreaking

Contacts:
Lynn Bassanese (845) 229-8114 X 261, National Archives and Records Administration
Allan Dailey (845) 229-1934, National Park Service

The National Archives and Records Administration will break ground for a new visitor, education and conference center on Sunday May 19, 2002 at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site in Hyde Park, New York. The ceremony will start in the Rose Garden at 10:45 AM, immediately followed by the groundbreaking on the site of the new building, just north of the Library building. Special guests include John Carlin, Archivist of the United States, Congressman John Sweeney, Marie Rust, National Park Service Regional Director, Bernadette Castro, Parks Commissioner for New York State, Arthur Schlesinger and Ambassador William J. vanden Heuvel, of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute. The ceremony is open to the public and local residents are encouraged to attend.

Named in honor of the man who served as Secretary of Agriculture (1933-1940) and Vice-President during Franklin Roosevelt's third term, the Henry A. Wallace Center will offer visitors an array of new and expanded services designed to enhance their experiences at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt, National Historic Site and surrounding historic venues. Facilities will include orientation exhibits and a film to welcome the public to the "world of the Roosevelts." The new building will also offer multipurpose rooms designed for conferences, school groups, and special programs; a café; state of the art audio-visual facilities; an auditorium and a new museum store. The Center will be located north of the historic Roosevelt property on land that will be transferred from the Park Service to the National Archives for the purpose of building the Center. When the Wallace Center opens in Fall, 2003, the visitors will approach the Roosevelt properties from a new entrance located north of the Bellefield drive.

The architectural design of the new Wallace Center is based upon the simple lines of early Dutch buildings in the Hudson River Valley. FDR loved that style of architecture and designed his presidential library to reflect colonial Dutch influence. The firm of R.M. Kliment & Frances Halsband Architects, New York, designed the new building and U.W. Marx, Inc. of Troy, New York has been selected as the general contractor.

At the same time that the Wallace Center is being constructed, the original Library building will be renovated to create a new 3,000 square foot special gallery. That gallery will be named for long-time president and chairman of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, William J. vanden Heuvel. The Vanden Heuvel Gallery will allow the Library to explore topical and timely issues related to the Roosevelts and the Presidency, show more of its historical collections (95 percent of which are currently in storage), and develop educational programming related to exhibits. Nationally important traveling exhibitions will be able to be shown to Hudson Valley audiences for the first time.

Compared to other presidential libraries, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library is significantly smaller and cannot provide a comparable level of programming. Since the Presidential Library opened in 1941, its museum has hosted more than 12 million visitors. Currently about 130,000 visit annually. The new facilities will better serve them and attract new visitors. Working with the National Park Service and the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, the Wallace Center will also provide an orientation to all of the NPS Roosevelt sites in Hyde Park including the Roosevelt Home, Val - Kill, and Top Cottage. Greatly improved and expanded ticketing, information and orientation will much better serve the public. Educational programs for K-12 students and adults will be expanded in the new building and state-of-the-art conference facilities will be available for seminars, conferences, and meetings of dignitaries and scholars.

The Wallace Center and Vanden Heuvel Gallery project is the result of a successful partnership between the National Archives and Records Administration, the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, and the National Park Service.

Director: Cynthia M. Koch
Phone: (845) 229-8114
Fax: (845) 229-0872
Email: roosevelt.library@nara.gov
Web site: www.fdrlibrary.marist.edu

For additional PRESS information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (301) 837-1700 or by e-mail. Visit the National Archives Home Page on the World Wide Web at http://www.archives.gov.

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