Roosevelt Campobello International Park

Location: Welshpool, New Brunswick

Webpage: National Park

General Description: Located on the southern tip of Campobello Island in New Brunswick, Roosevelt Campobello International Park is administered by the Campobello International Park Commission which is affiliated with both Parks Canada and NPS.  The colonial history of the island begins in 1770 when a grant for the island was given to Captain William Owen who renamed it Campobello after Britain’s Governor of Nova Scotia, Lord William Campbell.  By Italianizing his name to Campobello, it means “beautiful field” in Italian.  By the end of the 18th century it had become a thriving community, partly aided by Loyalist refugees fleeing the Revolutionary War.  Fishing was the major economy on the island until 1880s when the tourist potential was realized.  This was the same time that The Algonquin resort was built at St. Andrews and Bar Harbor was becoming established.  However, Campobello would strive to attract elite clientele following the purchase of most of the island by a group of American investors.  A luxurious hotel, eventually expanded to three hotels, attracted some of the wealthiest patrons from the US, including James and Sarah Roosevelt during the summer of 1883 and for many summers thereafter.  James bought property near the hotels to build a modest summer cottage that the Roosevelt family used for many years.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt spent every summer growing up at the summer cottage where they spent their summers sailing, swimming, and hiking with many family picnics.  Unfortunately, this cottage was torn down due to disrepair and only the foot print and a small part of the basement are still there.  Next door to their cottage was the summer home of Mrs. Hartman Kuhn built in 1897.  Upon her death in 1909, the property was offered to Sarah Roosevelt in her will for the sum of $5000.  Sarah bought the house along with 5 acres and gave it to Franklin and Elinor for their summer cottage.  Franklin expanded the cottage in 1915 by adding an additional L wing to bring it to the 34 rooms you can tour today.  The furnishings today are almost completely original dating from the 1920s.  It was at this cottage that Franklin D. Roosevelt contracted polio in 1921 and had to be carried off the island in a stretcher after recuperating in his bed for 6 weeks.  He visited the island only three more times in the future, although Elinor and the family returned for at least part of the summer for many years.  In 1962 it was deeded to the federal government and in 1964 the first and only International Park was formed.  Today you can tour the Roosevelt-Kuhn house, participate in an “afternoon tea with Eleanor”, tour the first floor of the Hubbard Cottage, drive the 8 miles of carriage roads, or hike the many trails.

Brochure

Impressions:

1) The Visitor Center includes a number of exhibits that give the history of the Roosevelt family at Campobello highlighting the many activities they shared over the summers with family and friends.  There is also a short 15 minute film that provides an excellent overview of the history and lifestyle.

VisitorCenter

2) The Roosevelt-Kuhn has been expertly preserved in the 1920 condition enjoyed by the Roosevelt family.  It is a self guided tour, although their are rangers stationed at strategic locations to give a short explanation of that part of the house, as well as, answer any questions.  You come to learn that they did not have electricity in the home, which was lit by kerosene lamps, although they did have hot and cold running water in all of the 6 bathrooms.  This was accomplished using a steam pump to fill a reservoir on the third floor that was piped to coils within the stove in the kitchen to provide the hot water.  Of the 34 rooms in the “cottage”, 18 are bedrooms and 6 are bathrooms, which includes rooms for all the children, guest rooms, and servant quarters.

RooseveltCottage TutoringRoom

3) The Hubbard house, along with the Prince and Wells-Shober Cottage have been restored and are used for conferences.  However, if there are no conferences scheduled, then the bottom floor of the Hubbard house is open to tour as well.  This house was obviously designed for entertaining, from the covered porches large enough to hold a dining table to the billiard room, parlor with a grand piano, and dining room with a picture window overlooking the bay, it would be an impressive location to stay for a conference.  This is also the location they hold their “teas with Eleanor” where a park service ranger conducts a talk from Eleanor’s point of view.  We did tour the house, but choose not to attend the tea so we could explore the island.

HubbardCottage FireplaceUnderStairs

4) Along with the cottages, the International Park consists of 2800 acres of land with 3 carriage roads you can drive and multiple hiking trails along the coast.  We drove each of the carriage roads, stopping to take in the scenery of the coast and took one of the hiking trails from Lower Duck Pond to Liberty Point.  Although listed as an easy trail, it is located on the bluff hugging the coast.  While this gave some great views, it also meant the trail was constantly either going up or down.  We choose to return back to Lower Duck Pond along the carriage road, which was a much easier and faster trip.

RockyShore

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