Therapeutic Relaxation and Rehabilitation

A Virtual Exploration of the Historic Pools at Warm Springs, Georgia

By Georgia Public Broadcasting

The Historic Pools at Warm Springs

Warm Springs Foundation-Polio Treatment (1938) by Margaret Bourke-WhiteLIFE Photo Collection

In 1926, Franklin Delano Roosevelt purchased hundreds of acres of land in Warm Springs, Georgia, to accommodate the increasing number of "uninvited" visitors to the town.

Sufferers of polio had heard through newspaper accounts that a prominent New Yorker was attempting to treat himself in the surrounding springs.

By 1927, the property had been donated to the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation, an organization of doctors and therapists dedicated to treating patients from across the country.

Roosevelt Visited Warm Springs for Treatment (2015) by Georgia Public BroadcastingGeorgia Public Broadcasting

Franklin D. Roosevelt enjoying a swim in Warm Springs, Georgia. (1930) by Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & MuseumGeorgia Public Broadcasting

A New Deal for Polio Treatment

Seeking relief from the debilitating disease of polio, Franklin Delano Roosevelt first visited the town of Warm Springs, Georgia, in 1924. Over the course of his lifetime, FDR came to Warm Springs 41 times.

Polio Treatment Pools (2015) by Georgia Public BroadcastingGeorgia Public Broadcasting

Roosevelt's commitment in time and effort to physical therapy at Warm Springs offered great hope and cheer to patients and locals alike.

The Washington Post reports that one patient recalled, "I owe Roosevelt my life, my whole life [because] I got polio on my fifth birthday, but I was a very happy child. I owe that to him and this place. This was a place where you didn't feel sorry for yourself and no one felt sorry for you."

Treatment Pool Bench (2015) by Georgia Public BroadcastingGeorgia Public Broadcasting

The town of Warm Springs surrounds an 88°F natural spring that has been sought for therapy and healing as far back as the 1830s.

Roosevelt Swimming in a Treatment Pool (1929) by Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & MuseumGeorgia Public Broadcasting

For patients of the facility, Roosevelt was just like them. They saw him moving independently in his wheelchair, they saw him undergoing therapy, and they saw him reveling in card-playing and live entertainment.

Warm Springs F. D. R's Home (1938-11) by Margaret Bourke-WhiteLIFE Photo Collection

The Warm Springs Foundation was initially funded with over half of Roosevelt's personal savings.

Enclosed pools were built for doctors and physiotherapists to treat patients with newly developed muscle exercises.

Roosevelt Receiving Physical Therapy (1928) by Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & MuseumGeorgia Public Broadcasting

Patients came from around the country to enjoy the encouragement, camaraderie, and "spirit of Warm Springs" at the growing resort.

Fdr At Thanksgiving (1938-11) by Margaret Bourke-WhiteLIFE Photo Collection

Warm Springs, GA - Thanksgiving Day address

Fdr's Warm Springs Funeral (1945-04-13) by Edward ClarkLIFE Photo Collection

America Bids Goodbye

Franklin D. Roosevelt was at home in Warm Springs when he collapsed from a cerebral hemorrhage in April of 1945. The nation was devastated. FDR had been president for over 12 years. A funeral train carried the president's body back to Washington immediately. The route was lined by soldiers and well-wishers. Here, local musician Graham Jackson plays "Near My God, To Thee" as the president's funeral train leaves Warm Springs. 

Credits: Story

FDR Presidential Library and Museum

New Georgia Encyclopedia

Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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