Located in Hyde Park, New York, Val-Kill gives visitors an exclusive look into the life Franklin D. Roosevelt’s wife, Eleanor Roosevelt. In 1911 Franklin D. Roosevelt purchased a piece of land near his Springwood home. This piece of land in the Hudson Valley is where Val-Kill now stands.


© NPS Photo

Almost a decade after Franklin purchased the piece of land, Eleanor began to use the piece of land as the premier location for outdoor activities. She was regularly seen picnicking, engaging in outdoor activities, and hanging out with friends on this piece of land. One of the reasons why Eleanor loved this location was because it was secluded, private, and more naturalistic than the environment at Springwood.

Around this time, Eleanor had an informal picnic with Franklin and two friends, Marion Dickerman and Nancy Cook. During this picnic, Franklin discussed the idea of creating small industries to help keep the spirit of farming alive, regardless of the economy. This idea would essentially keep the agricultural industry alive during specifically difficult economic eras.

Eleanor loved Franklin’s idea. Together, they decided to use the untouched piece of land to create two buildings to make Franklin’s idea a reality. The emergence of Val-Kill Industries allowed traditional handcraft techniques, such as making furniture and weaving, revive and contribute to extra income for families. Val-Kill Industries even became a model for recovery programs that were established within the New Deal.

Since Val-Kill Industries had two parts (the cottage and workshop), Franklin and Eleanor were able to utilize it for professional and personal purposes. Franklin and Eleanor specifically used the cottage as the premier location to host casual and intimate gatherings between family and friends. Franklin and Eleanor continued to use the cottage for this purpose until Franklin passed away in 1945. After Franklin passed away, Eleanor permanently moved into Val-Kill.

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© NPS Photo

Visitors can explore the inside and outside of Val-Kill. Like the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt, not much is known about what exactly lies inside Val-Kill. Visitors can generally expect to see an exclusive glimpse into the Roosevelt’s private life, especially Eleanor Roosevelt. One of the highlighted areas of Val-Kill is an exclusive permanent exhibit called Eleanor Roosevelt and Val-Kill: Emergence of a Political Leader.

Eleanor Roosevelt and Val-Kill: Emergence of a Political Leader is a comprehensive permanent attraction that explores the personal, political, and profession life of Eleanor Roosevelt from the early 1920s to the 1930s. Throughout this exhibit, visitors will be able to see how Eleanor truly helped shape the New Deal.

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3.Educational Opportunities

Educational Opportunities
© NPS Photo

There are a ton of educational opportunities available at Val-Kill. If visitors want an in-depth and behind the scenes glimpse of Val-Kill, they should participate in a guided tour. If you want an in-depth experience at Val-Kill, but don’t want to follow a tour guide, you can always take a cell phone tour.

Cell phone tours are a new and innovative educational experience at Val-Kill and the rest of Hyde Park. Accessing the cell phone tour is super easy. All you have to do is call 845-475-3819 and enter the stop number, which is located on various markers throughout the area. Then, you can enjoy a free audio file that gives you in-depth details about that stop. Aside from public guided tours and cell phone tours, Val-Kill offers other educational opportunities such as, workshops, classes, and school field trips.

One of the most popular educational opportunities at Val-Kill is the Courageous Writers program. This program is available for teenagers aged 12 to 16. Throughout this program, teenagers are able to learn about the fundamentals of writing. This program is one week long and occurs each summer. Instructors help participants use the historic setting of Val-Kill to influence and create a foundation for their writing.

Aside from the educational opportunities available for general visitors, children, and teenagers at Val-Kill, there are a ton of educational programs for teachers. These programs are designed to encourage teachers to utilize more history within their lessons and activities. In addition to encouraging teachers to utilize history to the best of their ability, these programs demonstrate how history can be taught and utilized in a fun and engaging way. Some of the educational opportunities available for educators at Val-Kill include an educational blog titled, “FDR, Eleanor, and Teddy: Teaching the Roosevelts”, and Teaching with Historic Places, which are specially designed lesson plans.

For more information about guided tours, Courageous Writers, educator programs, or any other educational opportunity at Val-Kill, be sure to check out the landmark’s official website, or contact or visit them during their hours of operation.

Back to: Things to Do in the Hudson Valley, Things to Do in New York

56,Valkill Park Rd,Hyde Park,NY,12538-2348, Phone: 845-229-9422

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Things to Do in Hudson Valley, New York: Val-Kill