Sixty-five years ago 982 people arrived at Fort Ontario in Oswego, NY. They would stay the next 18 months at the only World War II refugee camp on American soil. On August 20th at 6 pm in Sackets Harbor, Safe Haven President Elizabeth A. Kahl will share the story of those 982 “guests” of President Franklin D. Roosevelt from August 1944 to February 1946. The program is part of the 2009 Great Lakes Seaway Trail Experience Series at the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Discovery Center.
Kahl, who has served on the board of the nonprofit that administers the Safe Haven Museum and Education Center in Oswego since 1999, said in a press release that “The maelstrom that was World War II had millions of fugitives fleeing for their lives in Europe. A continent away, Oswego, New York on the shores of Lake Ontario was to play a unique role in history as the small community who gave 982 people shelter and hope.”
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt is among those who visited the refugees at the fort.
The $5 admission to the August 20th program benefits the Seaway Trail Foundation and its educational programming.
One of the blogs I follow here at New York History is Michael Lorenzen’s American Presidents blog. he recently took a trip to New York and posted a three-part blog on the Roosevelt sites:
Part One – covered Sagamore Hill, the Long Island estate of Theodore and Edith Roosevelt.
Part Two – looked at Eleanor Roosevelt’s home Val-Kill.
Part Three – was a visit to the FDR Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park.
Interesting reads, from an interesting blog.
From the New York Times, via the History News Network:
The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum at Hyde Park, N.Y., the nation’s first presidential library, is literally falling apart. The roof leaks, the basement floods, asbestos is flaking from old steam pipes, an ancient electrical system could send the whole place up in smoke. This sorry situation is an insult to the person the library and museum honor: the founder of the New Deal, the greatest investment in our nation’s modern development….
While the library sits high above the river, its basement lies below the water table. Sump pumps installed in 1939 are supposed to keep it dry, but don’t. Storms have caused flooding in the basement where collections are stored and in restrooms and public areas. What’s worse, storm and sewer drainage run together, which means they mingle if there’s a backup in the basement.
The electrical system, which was also installed in 1939, has outlived the suppliers of replacement parts. Archivists turn the lights on and off using the original circuit breakers. And with the electrical vault in the flood-prone basement, the library’s director, Cynthia Koch, fears that a short in the system could set the place on fire and destroy the entire collection.