F.d.r.’s Mother’s Home to Become Inter-faith Center for Hunter College Students

The residence in New York City of the late Sara Delano Roosevelt, mother of the President, will be converted into an inter-faith social, cultural and religious center for the 12,500 students of Hunter College, New York City’s municipal college for women, it was announced here today by the office of Stephen J. Early, secretary to the President.

The plan to establish such a center originated with Dr. George N. Shuster, president of Hunter, when he learned that the Roosevelt houses on 65th Street, near the college, were for sale. Jewish, Catholic and Protestant leaders became interested in the project and approached the President, who replied, in a letter to Dr. A.L. Sachar, national director of the Hillel Foundation: “I am really thrilled at the thought of the use of the houses as a symbol of inter-faith amity.” The President agreed to decline all other offers until the necessary funds could be raised. After four months of work on the part of a committee representing the three major religious denominations – composed of John S. Burke, Henry Monsky and Charles H. Tuttle – the required funds were secured and the houses purchased.

The center, which was officially presented to Hunter College yesterday, will be known, by permission of the President, as the Sara Delano Roosevelt Memorial House. It will open at the beginning of the school year in the Fall. The Newman Club will assign Catholic counsellors to the house; the B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation will assign Jewish counsellors; and the Protestant groups are expected to assign workers from the Y.W.C.A. The house will also be the center of a “House Plan” which will serve the intellectual and social activities of the students, functioning under joint student and faculty leadership.

In a letter to Mr. Monsky, who is president of B’nai B’rith, President Roosevelt wrote “I have a feeling that my mother would have been so happy in knowing that the houses were to be used for such a splendid purpose that she would have wanted me to give its sponsors every opportunity.”

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