MAY 23, 1949
HYDE PARK, Sunday—It is worthy of note that a National Council for Historic Sites and Buildings has been formed with headquarters in Washington, D.C. Many American organizations interested in history, in architecture, in preserving the cultures of people and studying them, have come together to sponsor this national council.
The officers and executive board members should certainly inspire confidence. President of the council is U.S. Grant, 3rd, who has for many years watched over the buildings and grounds of Washington, D.C. Chairman of the executive board is David E. Finley, head of the National Art Gallery in Washington. The names of all the other people are equally outstanding, and my particular interest lies in the executive secretary, Frederick L. Rath, Jr., who did so much here at Hyde Park as historian when he turned over the house and the grounds to the government.
This will mean that outside the government there will be a strong group of people interested in preserving America's historic past. In almost any place in the United States, one sees interesting historic monuments deteriorating from lack of care and understanding of their value on the part of the people of the locality. Federal and state governments and existing organizations, working by themselves, cannot do the job that needs to be done. If outside the government, however, all the interested organizations are drawn together in one national council, it will strengthen their prestige and their financial ability.
The program of the national council contemplates bringing to a successful conclusion a national inventory of historic sites and buildings, the establishment of a national trust for historic preservation in the United States, and the inauguration of a program of registered national landmarks. Every individual interested in this program can help by giving a donation to support the work. In doing so, he can feel that he is a part of the program of conservation which is gradually awakening the people of the United States to the need of concern about their soil, their forests and their wildlife. This new program places the emphasis on the cultural background of people and their history, which is just as important as our physical well-being.
* * *
The Human Rights Commission, in part at least, had lunch with me at Hyde Park yesterday. For the second time this year we were blessed with a most beautiful day, and so had a very successful outdoor picnic. Though not quite as warm as the last time when I entertained the members of Committee Three, it was balmy enough for everybody to have a pleasant time sitting around the swimming pool in the sun. I find that people from other nations like our Hudson River landscape. When I take them up and show them the cottage where my son and his wife now live, but which my husband built, they are always enchanted by the view of the Catskill Mountains in the distance.