Here’s the menu for this year’s FDR Memorial Lecture & Dinner. As you can see, we’re celebrating in style with a five course Dinner Dance based on a 1960 Eisenhower State Dinner for Charles de Gaulle. Yum!
COCKTAIL HOUR: open bar
Assorted sauces and condiments
APPETIZER COURSE Crostini chicken liver pate, cornichon and red onion jam.
FISH COURSE Trout roulade shrimp mousse citrus butter sauce.
Aperitif Lemon Sorbet
MEAT COURSE Beef wellington, horseradish sauce scallop potatoes French green bean and braised shallots.
We celebrate in true bi-partisan style this election year with award-winning presidential biographer Jean Edward Smith, author of Grant, FDR and now the critically acclaimed Eisenhower in War and Peace. Professor Smith’s lecture on the masterful warrior-president from Abilene begins at 4:30, followed by a book signing in the Conservatory, a cocktail reception & our now famous Roosevelt Raw bar in the Gold Room, along with guided tours of the newly restored FDR Suite. Then we adjourn to the majestic Adams House Dining Hall for an elegant dinner-dance featuring a specially catered menu drawn from actual Eisenhower-era State Dinners and the musical wizardry of DJ ‘Dance With Lance’, Lance Kussell ’87, who’ll be spinning toe-tapping tunes from the Eisenhower era and beyond.
Saturday November 10, 2012 at 4:30 PM
Adams House, 26 Plympton Street, Cambridge
We’re hugely pleased to announce that Professor Jean Edward Smith, author of the recently published and critically acclaimed Eisenhower in War and Peace will be our speaker at the Fifth Annual FDR Memorial Lecture and Dinner, Saturday November 10, 2012 at 4PM. Professor Smith was our guest at the First Annual Lecture – before the Restoration had even begun – upon the publication of his seminal biography FDR. He gave a hugely memorable talk on that ocassion, and we are so delighted to have him back, especially in this presidential election year.
And, yes, this is a banquet year for the Suite; a very special gourmet dinner in the dining hall, themed from the Eisenhower White House, will follow a cocktail reception and book signing.
As this event will be co-sponsored with the Harvard Alumni Association, tickets will go fast, so I will be following up with special advance notice for our supporters in September. Save the date: Saturday, November 10. This promises to be a memorable event!
FDR's desk, with its new companion, a rotating oak bookcase. The volume sitting on top by the way, is a leather bound copy of the 1900-1901 Crimson, also recently acquired.
Well spring has certainly sprung in Cambridge, and while our weather wildly swings between days in the 80’s and nights in the teens, I thought I would take a moment to bring you up to date on a few items.
The first is a hearty welcome to our new rotating bookcase, a seemingly minor item that turned into quite the affair. We’ve been in the market for a one of these clever little space-saving gems since the beginning of the restoration; although once common (and hugely practical) unfortunately they are now rarer than hens’ teeth. After several years of searching for a case that fit our space, I finally decided to ask Lary Shaffer, the woodworker extraordinaire that built our Morris chairs, to construct one for us. Lary, always game for a new challenge, took on the project with gusto. Together he and I reverse-engineered various examples we discovered online, and then re-engineered our design to match FDR’s rolltop desk in size, material and scale. All in all we are very pleased; the case really completes FDR’s corner – which always seemed a bit bare compared to Lathrop’s rather opulent flattop (helped by the fact that Lathrop also gets an extra window). The bookcase also improves the Suite’s narrative, reflecting the fact that FDR was an avid bibliophile and book collector while at Harvard. Now all we need to do is fill it with appropriate volumes, and wait as the now golden oak fades and darkens to match FDR’s desk. (I was tempted to hurry the process along with stain but Lary insisted that wasn’t the thing to do, so patience, never my sterling trait, will have to be the byword.)
The bookcase, by the way, represents something of a milestone: we’re homing in on the end of the physical restoration. We have some small electrical work to finish, a daybed to build to better match our chairs in style and period (another project for Lary & I – we are already working on designs), and finally, the re-tiling of the fireplace surround, which for reasons never fully understood was de-tiled sometime during its history, along with all but one of the B-entry fireplaces. This is another custom job: we have a model in the sole surviving fireplace in the old porter’s lodge, but the tile is no longer made and will have to be custom fabricated for us. But that’s a story for another day. However, when these last projects are completed, the Suite will actually be finished (Deo volente) and we’ll be ready to move on to focus solely on our educational and scholarship programs.
And speaking of which: we have two more New Fireside Chats coming up, which are just waiting for me to edit: the first with Curtis Roosevelt was taped last November; the second with Father John Jay Hughes ’48, last October. Unfortunately I am way behind with getting these out; I was diverted first into finishing our video tour, Tales of a Suite, and then, to what became a ridiculously monumental project for the HAA, called Six Buildings that Shaped Harvard History. This is one of those things that you innocently agree to do, that just grow and grow and grow until it seems that it will never be finished (like the Suite!), but I am homing in on end of this one as well. I had originally agreed simply to host a video version of the popular walking tour I give each year; then I was asked to expand the project into more of television-like presentation for the 375th, then finally, to write, direct, and produce what has now become a 30 minute, PBS quality documentary. Why precisely I said I would do this I’m not sure, other than the fact that my contacts at the HAA are totally charming and hard to refuse. In any event, Six Buildings (done in a few weeks and to be announced here) will bring the Suite much added publicity, as the story involves the Gold Coast and the rise of the House system – and as part of the deal, the HAA will now be publicizing and promoting our Chats, at least when I get them finished, that is!
And finally: we’ve decided to push the Annual FDR Memorial Lecture into the fall. This was the result of several events, not the least of which was my being totally overwhelmed with other projects. The real stumbling block however has been finding a speaker of suitable note. We’ve asked filmmaker Ken Burns, who declined for this year but promised a future talk closer to the launch of his new Roosevelt documentary; David McCullough who didn’t get back to us (naughty naughty) and several other prominent persons in the political world, who for various reasons were unable to commit. Given these difficulties, and since this is our fifth anniversary and a banquet year to boot, we’ve decided to work on the event over the summer for a fall launch. If any of you have suggestions for a speaker of appropriate stature and note (and/or connections to proffer the invitation), we’d love to hear from you!
That’s all for now… stay tuned.
Some People Read History. Others Make It.
Come make a little history: support the FDR Suite Foundation!
Several of you have written to me in the last few weeks wondering why things have been so quiet lately. The fault, I’m afraid, is all mine. On the professional front, we’ve had a one of the strangest, snowless winters ever, with bright sunny days and temperatures routinely in the 40s, which means, for a fellow in the landscape design business like me, a real windfall, with our projects continuing right into January. Mainly however, the reason for the gap in transmissions has been the magnum opus you see below: Tales of A Suite: Rediscovering FDR at Harvard. Since August a few of our students and I have been laboring to put together a PBS quality documentary on the Suite, one that would set its historical background, explain its creation, and (hopefully) motivate people to become involved in our future. This last is particularly important as we move into the final stages of this project, endeavoring to launch our scholarship programs and fund a permanent $750,000 endowment to maintain the Suite and its programs. To that end, I thought we needed a clear, engaging mission statement, and here it is:
This full length film will now be shown to all guests visiting the Suite, and the HAA has expressed interest in releasing it worldwide to our alums. We’ll also be producing a short 5-7 minute version for corporate fundraising purposes. (Given the international nature of our planned programs, I’ve several candidates in mind for that: stay tuned. I’d also welcome any suggestions you may have in that regard as well.)
Finally, we’ve launched a very high profile invitation for this year’s FDR Memorial Lecture, and are waiting to hear back. I’ll be in touch as soon as we have an answer.
In the meantime, enjoy the film everyone, and Happy Presidents’ Day!
Well, we’ve finally got a new New Fireside Chat launched, with two more taped, to be edited and released in December and January. For the next two episodes, we’re on the road, off to the historic Hudson Valley, ancestral home of Franklin Roosevelt, to speak with noted FDR scholars about the man and his times.
NB: These programs are now all filmed in high-definition, so if your Internet speed is sufficiently high, you can watch them as they were meant to be viewed. By default, the player sets to the lowest (fastest) speed. Simply hit the play button, and to your right various picture controls appear; simply adjust the number followed by “p” in the menu bar upwards to increase picture quality. (The other controls increase the picture size, which you might also wish to experiment with. Again, if your connection is sufficiently speedy, full screen, perfectly clear pictures are possible.) If you’re the patient type, you can watch these programs in high definition even with a slower connection: simply press pause early on, and let the gray buffer bar move sufficiently forward in front of the play head to accommodate your connection speed.)
If all that sounds to complicated, just press play, sit back, and enjoy!
In the first segment of this three-part program, Dr. Cynthia Koch, past director of the FDR Presidential Museum and Library at Hyde Park – and also our speaker at last year’s FDR Memorial Lecture –discusses recent changes at the Presidential Museum, including the first ever major renovation of the exhibits, and what the visitor can expect to see in upcoming months. The conversation then shifts to Roosevelt’s upbringing in the Hudson Valley, and how spirit of the place shaped his personal and political thinking.
In part two of this three-part program, Dr. Cynthia Koch, past director of the FDR Presidential Museum and Library at Hyde Park, discusses how FDR used his Dutch heritage to for political ends; the discussion then turns to FDR as Educator in Chief, and how he used simple stories and historical examples to relate complex issues to the American people. Also revealed is FDR’s strained relationship with Hoover, and how Hoover redeemed his reputation under the Truman administration with his post WWII efforts in Europe.
The final portion of the discussion with Dr. Cynthia Koch, past director of the FDR Presidential Museum and Library at Hyde Park, concludes with the legacy of the FDR administration, and lessons for today’s political scene.
Thanks go out to Dr. Koch for hosting our filming set; Matthew Young ’12 our producer, and Joe Brancale ’13 our cameraman, and as always, to you our supporters, who make this all possible.
Some People Read History. Others Make It.
Come make a little history: support the FDR Suite Foundation!