Speed Reads

a lesson in history

FDR also had a 'Winter White House' — for treating kids with polio

The Trump administration has dubbed Mar-a-Lago the "Winter White House," a sunny respite from the dreary swamp of Washington. President Trump owns the resort, and his frequent visits have come under fire for their cost to taxpayers, potential for conflicts of interest, and comparative lack of transparency.

Still, as historian Joshua Zeitz documents at Politico, Trump is not the first president to have a private escape:

Ulysses S. Grant frequented Long Branch, New Jersey, where his family kept a summer cottage. Woodrow Wilson also preferred the Jersey Shore; his staff worked out of an office building in Asbury Park during many of the summer months. Harry Truman traveled often to Key West, where a modest naval officer's home served as his "Little White House." Teddy Roosevelt had Sagamore Hill; John Kennedy, his family's compounds in Palm Beach and Hyannis Port; and Ronald Reagan, his California ranch. [Politico]

Perhaps the most comparable presidential retreat, however, belonged to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who owned and often visited a luxury resort in Warm Springs, Georgia. But there was one big difference between the Warm Springs facility and Mar-a-Lago: "FDR built his club to care for people stricken by polio — many of them poor, and most of them children."

The hotel and its sprawling grounds were a resort and care facility at once, and FDR, also a polio victim, raised money or personally picked up the tab for polio patients who could not afford the $42 weekly rate (equivalent to about $600 today).

Roosevelt eventually sold the resort to a foundation he created, "thus replenishing FDR's personal fortune," but he continued to stump for donations after the sale.