FDR’s Ice Yacht To Be Displayed In The Wallace Center

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Date: March 13, 2012
Contact: Franceska Macsali-Urbin, 845-229-6214

FDR's Ice Yacht To Be Displayed In The Wallace Center

On March 17, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's ice yacht "Hawk" will be on display in the lobby of the Henry A. Wallace Visitor Center. The exhibit will be for one day only, as the ice yacht "sails" from storage on the lower level of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum to its final docking in the curatorial storage facility of the National Park Service. This is a rare opportunity for visitors to see FDR's personal ice yacht.

FDR became passionate about ice yachting as he grew up watching his uncle John Aspinwall Roosevelt, who lived just down the road, compete in races on the Hudson River in the winter.

John Roosevelt won the prestigious Ice Yacht Challenge Pennant of America and helped found the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club, which exists today.

Built by George E. Buckhout of Poughkeepsie, New York, the ice yacht "Hawk" was presented to Franklin Roosevelt by his mother, Sara, as a Christmas gift on December 25, 1901. From 1901 to 1904, FDR sailed and raced the "Hawk" on the Hudson River, chiefly during the years he was a student at Harvard. In 1941, President Roosevelt donated the ice yacht to the National Archives and Records Administration for exhibition in his newly constructed presidential library adjacent to his Hyde Park, New York estate. That same year it was placed on display on the lower level of the Library building in a gallery with other transportation-related artifacts (many from Dutchess County) that FDR collected, including carriages and sleighs.

The ice yacht "Hawk" was on display there when the Presidential Library and Museum opened to the public in June 1941. It was displayed in the same location for nearly 55 years. Exhibits around it changed over time. Most notably, in 1948, FDR's car was exhibited beside it. In April 1995, the exhibit space was converted into a museum collection storage space. While FDR's car and other items move to new locations the "Hawk" remained mounted on the wall, in storage. This month the National Archives and Records Administration will officially transfer ownership of the ice yacht to the National Park Service - which can provide a more suitable space for the long-term storage of this artifact.

On March 17, each tour of the Roosevelt Home will begin beside the "Hawk" with a member of the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club presenting information Ice Yachting. This is an incredible opportunity for visitors to enjoy a unique Roosevelt artifact that has not been exhibited for nearly two decades.

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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