Built by Philadelphia contractor John McShain, the facility was constructed on 16 acres (65,000 m²) of land in Hyde Park, New York, donated by the President and his mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt. The library resulted from the President's decision that a separate facility was needed to house the vast quantity of historical papers, books, and memorabilia he had accumulated during a lifetime of public service and private collecting.
Before the Library
Prior to Roosevelt's Presidency, the final disposition of Presidential papers was left to chance. Although a valued part of the nation's heritage, the papers of chief executives were private property which they took with them upon leaving office. Some were sold or destroyed and thus either scattered or lost to the nation forever. Others remained with families, but inaccessible to scholars for long periods of time. The fortunate collections found their way into the Library of Congress and private repositories.