Historic Sites and Buildings
This international park, administered jointly by the United States and Canada and a symbol of friendship between the two nations, commemorates the life of Franklin D. Roosevelt and preserves the summer home that frequently gave him respite during his youth and early political career.
About 1880 a group of New York and Boston entrepreneurs acquired Campobello Island, on Passamaquody Bay just east of the U.S.-Canadian boundary across Lubec Channel from Lubec, Maine, for development as a resort area. One of the first U.S. citizens who began spending his summers at the place was James Roosevelt. He first vacationed there in 1883, when his son Franklin was only a year old. The next year, James purchased 4 acres of waterfront land, and 2 years later completed construction of a cottage.
As a youth on the island, Franklin acquired a love for the sea and sailing that became a lifelong passion, hiked over the rugged terrain, and learned to play golf and tennis. After the death of his father in 1900, he continued to accompany his mother to the island. Following his marriage to Anna Eleanor Roosevelt in 1905, he brought his own family there for the greater part of each summer.
In 1910 Roosevelt acquired his own residence on the island. A two-story frame structure built in 1897 in the Dutch Colonial style, it was considerably larger than his father's cottage, to the north, which came to be known in the family as "Granny's House." In 1910-15 Roosevelt added a study onto the south end of his home. Crippled by an attack of polio he suffered on the island in 1921, when he was 39 years old, he did not return until 1933, while serving his first term as President. His final visits occurred in 1936 and 1939, though his family continued to use the residence until 1952, 7 years after his death, when his son Elliott sold it to the Hammer family.
In 1962 the dedication of Franklin D. Roosevelt International Memorial Bridge, between Lubec, Maine, and Campobello Island, made the island more accessible to the public. The next year, during a meeting with Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson of Canada, President John F. Kennedy suggested that the home be preserved as a memorial to Roosevelt and as an expression of international peace and good will between the two countries.
In 1963 the Hammers, who had furnished the residence with items appropriate to the time of Roosevelt's occupancy, donated the structure, its furnishings, outbuildings, and about 10-1/2 acres of land to the Governments of the United States and Canada. The next year, the park was established. It is owned and administered by a joint Canada-United States commission. The house is in good condition today, and some of its 34 rooms are open to the public. "Granny's House" is no longer extant. The larger part of the 2,721-1/2-acre park is kept in a natural state.
Last Updated: 04-Feb-2004