Actual Factual Georgia: How often did FDR visit Warm Springs?

Q: We know that FDR spent a lot of time at Warm Springs. How many trips did he take there?

A: President Franklin D. Roosevelt loved visiting Warm Springs, making 41 trips to the west Georgia town and its soothing water (88 degrees) from 1924 – eight years before being elected president —- until his death there in 1945, according to GeorgiaInfo (georgiainfo.galileo.usg.edu), an online almanac.

Roosevelt contracted polio on a 1921 family vacation to Campobello Island (in New Brunswick, Canada) and thought Warm Springs would help heal the muscles in his legs. He even gained movement in his right leg after his first visit there in October 1924, according to the National Park Service.

Two years later, Roosevelt bought the resort and an additional 1,200 acres from a fellow New Yorker. He used some of the land for the Warm Springs Foundation – now called Roosevelt Warm Springs (gvra.georgia.gov/warmsprings) – and then what became known as the Little White House, which was completed in 1932.

I was stunned to find out that it has only six main rooms, three of which are bedrooms (Eleanor Roosevelt and FDR had separate rooms).

He continued to visit Warm Springs through his four terms as president, even during World War II, but couldn’t breakaway from his duties for a trip in 1942.

Roosevelt returned to the Little White House for what would become the final time in March 1945. He was working at his desk and sitting for a portrait when he had a stroke on April 12. He died later that afternoon.

The watercolor, simply called the “Unfinished Portrait,” is on display at the Little White House Historic Site (gastateparks.org/LittleWhiteHouse, 706-655-5870).

Q: Is North Avenue so named because it’s north of the city or is it named for a person?

—Lance DeLoach, Thomaston

A: North Avenue, which runs east to west – or west to east, depending on which way you’re driving — apparently gained its descriptive name because it once was the northern boundary of Atlanta. A check with the research staff at the Atlanta History Center came up with the same answer.

No matter the name’s origin, North Avenue, which runs from Candler Park Drive to Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard, is one of the city’s most famous roads and home to some of its most honored institutions. You’ll pass one side of Manuel’s Tavern (its actual address is on North Highland Avenue), The Varsity, Georgia Tech and Coca-Cola on a drive along North Avenue.

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If you’re new in town or have questions about this special place we call home, ask us! E-mail Andy Johnston at q&a@ajc.com or call 404-222-2002.

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