Contact: 706.672.3467

Healthcare History

It was one of the most feared diseases in America: Polio.

And after Franklin Roosevelt was paralyzed by it, he was desperate.

In 1920, fearing his prospects in life and politics had been destroyed, Roosevelt brushed aside the objections of his disapproving family and made his first pilgrimage from New York to Warm Springs (then called Bullochville) on the advice of his friend George Foster Peabody. Peabody had recently purchased an interest in the Meriwether Inn, and had told Roosevelt of a young man whose polio symptoms lessened after swimming in the warm mineral springs of the resort. Determined, Roosevelt set off.

It was a fateful journey, not just for Roosevelt but for the world.

The nation’s first modern treatment center: First of all, Roosevelt was startled to discover impressive results from the ancient healing now known as hydrotherapy. Reinvigorated, he re-launched his life and his political career. And in 1926, he purchased the Meriwether Inn property and more than 1,200 surrounding acres (spending two-thirds of his personal fortune) and founded the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation as the nation’s first modern treatment center for poliomyelitis.

Supporting vital research: After Roosevelt assumed the Presidency, he helped create the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis to expand research for the disease; annual Birthday Balls in his honor jumpstarted fundraising efforts which eventually became known as the March of Dimes. Those foundation funds were critical to Jonas Salk’s successful effort to formulate the polio vaccine, which was introduced to the enormous relief of the nation and the world in 1954.

In the meantime, Roosevelt had passed away, deeding the Warm Springs property to the Foundation. Today, Americans no longer fear polio, and the disease is being completely eradicated across the globe. And here in our county, the Roosevelt Warm Spring Rehabilitation Hospital continues to provide leading rehabilitation services for spinal cord injury, stroke and other complex medical conditions. Also, a nascent biotech sector is finding great success here, promising innovation for tomorrow’s care.

Important strides have been made; important work goes on in Meriwether.



Jane Fryer, Executive Director
17234 Roosevelt Hwy, Bldg. B
Greenville, GA 30222
Phone:(706) 672-3467
Fax: (706) 672-4465
email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)