- Historic Sites
Miss Eleanor Roosevelt
“She is such a funny child, so old-fashioned, that we always call her ‘Granny’ “her mother said. Cousin Franklin felt otherwise
October 1971 | Volume 22, Issue 6
His vital interests, during that first law-school year, centered in the house on East Seventy-sixth Street— the Parish house—where Eleanor lived. He spent as much time with her as he possibly could, going often with her to social events. On March 4, 1905, he and she were present by special invitation at the inauguration of Theodore Roosevelt as President. They were very much at the center of the ceremonies and festivities of this historic event. They had come down to Washington in the private railway car of a cousin, George Emlen Roosevelt; they sat on the Capitol steps behind the Theodore Roosevelt family as the President took the oath of office and delivered his inaugural address; they lunched afterward at the White House before going out to the official reviewing stand to watch the inaugural parade; and of course they danced together at the inaugural ball that night.
Thirteen days later, on Saint Patrick’s Day, which was also the birthday of Eleanor’s mother, they were married.
The wedding took place, as Pussie’s had, in the home of Mrs. E. Livingston Ludlow, who was Pussie’s aunt and Mrs. Henry Parish’s mother. The Ludlow house adjoined the Parishes’ on East Seventy-sixth Street, between Madison and Fifth avenues, and the drawing rooms of the two were separated only by sliding doors that could be opened for special occasions to make the two large rooms into one .enormous one. This had been done for Pussie’s wedding; it was to be done for Eleanor’s wedding reception after the ceremony itself, at which attendance was restricted to the two families and a few of the most intimate friends.
The bride wore a long-sleeved dress of stiff white satin, with shirred tulle at the neck—a dress covered by her Grandmother Hall’s rose-point Brussels lace, of which the long bridal veil was also made. Around her throat was a dog collar of pearls given her by Franklin’s mother; in her arms was a huge bouquet of lilies of the valley. She was radiant, almost beautiful, and certainly graceful in her tall slenderness as she emerged from the upstairs bedroom where she had dressed, came down the stairway on the arm of her escort, and walked slowly along the aisle between the groom’s assembled family and her own to the chancel of pink roses and palms that had been set up before the fireplace. The groom awaited her there, with his best man, Lathrop Brown, as did the Reverend Dr. Peabody, who performed the ceremony.
But the center of attention at this wedding and reception was not the bride. Not for her sake, nor that of the man she was to marry, did great crowds gather at both the Fifth and Madison Avenue entrances to that block, entrances cordoned off by more than seventy-five policemen who permitted none but invited guests to enter and, indeed, so zealously checked their credentials that several did not get into the LudlowParish houses until after the reception had almost ended. When the bride came down the stairs she was less stared at even by that family assemblage than was the man who was the object of all this police guardianship —a bespectacled, mustached man almost a head shorter than she, upon whose arm she leaned—and the most memorable moment of the ceremony came, not when the Reverend Dr. Peabody pronounced Franklin and Eleanor man and wife, but when he asked, “Who giveth this woman to be married to this man?” and was answered by the stocky bespectacled man, in a loud voice, “I do!” For this man who gave the bride away— this man for whose convenience the wedding date had been set (in his official capacity he had reviewed the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade up Fifth Avenue before coming to the ParishLudlow houses)—was none other than Eleanor’s Uncle Ted, the President of the United States.
The sliding doors were opened. The throng on the Parish side of them, awaiting the reception, pressed through toward the chancel where the bridal couple stood. There the President of the United States was heard to congratulate his niece and distant cousin, saying he was delighted that they were keeping the Roosevelt name in the family. Then he strode into the Parish library where refreshments were being served and where he, no doubt (for he was one of the great trenchermen of that overstuffed age), partook heartily of them. The guests followed him. Soon the young married couple were left all alone before the altar, gazing perhaps a bit ruefully at each other, though Eleanor would later remember that neither she nor Franklin was particularly surprised or dismayed by this desertion. They simply followed the others into the library where Uncle Ted held forth with jokes and stories, and where they listened and laughed with the rest.
After the President’s departure and the reception’s end, Franklin and Eleanor slipped away, donned travelling clothes, and entrained for Hyde Park, where they had a short week of honeymooning before moving into an apartment they had rented in the Hotel Webster, on West Fortyfifth Street. Here they lived until Franklin completed his first year of law school.