First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt took a great interest in Greenbelt and visited the town on numerous occasions. Mrs. Roosevelt participated directly in extensive planning and development. She believed that decent housing and a nurturing environment for families were basic rights that all Americans should enjoy.
As Greenbelt's construction reached completion, many of Greenbelt's amenities such as swimming pool, playgrounds, landscaping, and allotment gardens were threatened by cuts in government funding. Wallace Richards, an administrator involved in building Greenbelt, knew of Mrs. Roosevelt's deep interest in the new town. He asked her to help restore the funding, writing to her on October 28, 1937, that "last minute economy would affect those very things we had counted on to hold the townsfolk at home, make them happy and community conscious, and prevent them from spending a disproportionate amount of their income in seeking relaxation elsewhere. If I were not utterly convinced of the necessity for the full completion of Greenbelt, I would not think of begging you, as I am, to assume an even greater interest in the town. But those of us who have been privileged to meet you know how you devote your time and energy to convince people that, in the long run, social and economic progress is a personal issue, that it means as much to work for the community as for the family. I cannot help but believe that you will feel as I do, that a completed Greenbelt is desirable and that a successful Greenbelt demonstration of cooperative community life would be one of the socially significant steps in this decade." In response, Mrs. Roosevelt wrote a note directly to President Roosevelt urging him to intercede in some way to ensure that the project included all of its planned recreational facilities.
(Photo caption on left side of marker)Soon after Greenbelt was completed, Mrs. Roosevelt made a surprise visit on December 9, 1937 to see how people were settling in to their new homes. While visiting, the First Lady met teachers and students in this building, the former elementary school, and she toured one of the newly settled homes.
(Photo captions on right side of marker)Eleanor Roosevelt wrote a syndicated newspaper column called "My Day" from 1935 to 1962. In her column, Mrs. Roosevelt shared her ideas about social and political issues and detailed some of the activities of her busy life. · February 21, 1942. Eleanor Roosevelt and town manager Roy Braden in the Greenbelt Community Center. The First Lady spoke at a defense rally held by the Greenbelt Defense Corps in order to raise funds for medicinal equipment and supplies.