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The Day Syracuse Welcomed President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

That may not have been the actual newspaper headline, but it was still a momentous occasion.

On September 29, 1936, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) made the 5 hour ride on his specially equipped train from Hyde Park, New York to Syracuse to help lay the cornerstone to a new building which would house classrooms and laboratories for what was then called, Syracuse University College of Medicine.

When he reached his destination, the president participated in the ceremony that included speeches by Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, Governor Herman Lehman and local politicians.

These photos from the Historical Collections department of the Health Sciences Library, illustrate the joy experienced that day, especially demonstrated by the always smiling Roosevelt. Click on the thumbnails to see the full version of the photographs.

FDR and Dr. William Pratt Graham President Roosevelt. Left, Dr. William Pratt Graham
Waiting for Ceremony- FDR behind bunting Waiting for Ceremony- FDR behind bunting
Roosevelt Standing at the Podium Roosevelt Standing at the Podium


FDR states:

"I am renewing an old association in coming back to Syracuse and Syracuse University. And incidentally, I am very proud of being an honorary alumnus of the University".

Read more of FDR's speech on that day from the American Presidency Project.
FDR Delivering His Speech FDR Delivering His Speech
FDR Remarks Directed to Chancellor Graham FDR Remarks Directed to Chancellor Graham
FDR Tips His Hat During Motorcade FDR Tips His Hat During Motorcade
FDR, Rolland B. Marvin, Mayor of Syracuse, and Governor Herman Lehman FDR, Rolland B. Marvin, and Herman Lehman


Secretary Ickes in speaking of the aid the federal government has provided to schools, included the following remarks:



"...that had if it not been for the help of the federal government the maintenance of old buildings and the construction of new ones would have been brought to an abrupt end"

"Far better a temporarily unbalanced budget, until the full return of that economic prosperity which is now so well on its way, than an unbalanced educational system"

Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes
Estimated Crowd of 6,000 Listening to Speeches Estimated Crowd of 6,000 Listening to Speeches


Remarks of Dr. Herman Gates Weiskotten, Dean of the College of Medicine:

"The maintenance of health, the prevention of disease, the prolongation of life, and the relief of human suffering, are of such paramount importance in this country of ours that all economic, political and social programs not directed to the furtherance of these objectives pale in insignificance before them."
September 29, 1936

Items Placed in the Cornerstone as Read by Dr. Weiskotten:

Picture of a cornerstone

The new College of Medicine building was originally called the Basic Sciences Building. Later it was renamed Weiskotten Hall, in honor of the former Dean, Dr. Herman Gates Weiskotten.

After the ceremony, 25,000 people gathered to see and hear Roosevelt in Armory Square, before the evening's Democratic Convention which also took place that day.

Dean Herman Weiskotten Dean Herman Weiskotten
Invitations to the Ceremony Invitations to the Ceremony