[cam-poo-BEL-loo] is an island in Canada, joined by a causeway to Lubec in Washington County. Acquired by FDR’s father James Roosevelt in 1883, the house was ready for the family in 1885. It became the summer retreat of Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt, even before he became President of the United States.
Franklin spent most summers there from 1885 until he was stricken by polio in 1921. He returned for brief visits a few more times, delayed by illness and politics, in the summers of 1933, 1936 and 1939.
Now it is home to the Roosevelt Campobello International Park, administered by an international commission, once chaired by Maine’s Edmund S. Muskie.
The photo above was taken from the north, featuring East Quoddy (or Head Harbor) Lightstation. During the 1970’s concerns were raised about oil spills in the area. If plans for an offshore oil port at Machiasport and a giant oil-desulpherization refinery at Searsport had been implemented, oil tankers would have sailed through the channel in the right foreground.
Accessible by land only through Lubec (lost in the upper portion of the photo), guided tours of the main cottage are available during the summer. Eastport, about two miles away, is clearly visible from the shore near the cottage. Welshpool is a village just north of the Park, named by early settlers from Wales.
Eleanor Roosevelt made many trips to Maine as First Lady, including a 1941 appearance at Quoddy Village near Eastport for the National Youth Administration.
Two years later at the height of World War II, she visited women working at the shipyards in Portland and South Portland on February 7-8, 1943. Mrs. Roosevelt focused on the women’s challenges of running a home while working, since many of their husbands were in the armed forces.
Doris Kearns Goodwin reported, “For two hours, the women in the Portland plant shared the details of their daily lives with the first lady. She asked about their homes and their families as well as their work.” Later on the 8th she traveled to Camden.
According to several sources, each summer on her way to Campobello Island, Mrs. Roosevelt stopped at Perry’s Nut House in Belfast, a collection of animal oddities and specialty foods. Reportedly, in Eleanor: The Years Alone, even though she was too sick to get out of her car, on her very last trip to Maine she asked friends to go in for her.
Bodger, John Charles, ed. Sunrise County Architecture: Significant Buildings of Washington County, Maine and Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada. Machias, Me. Sunrise Research Institute. c1996.
Goodwin, Doris Kearns. No Ordinary Time – Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II. New York: Touchstone. 1992.
Isaacson, Dorris A. Maine: A Guide Downeast. p. 333.
Klein, Jonas. Beloved island: Franklin & Eleanor and the Legacy of Campobello. Forest Dale, VT. Paul S. Eriksson. c2000.
Lash, Joseph P. Eleanor Roosevelt on Campobello. 197?
Lash, Joseph P. Eleanor: The Years Alone. New York. Norton. c1972.
National Archives and Records Administration. Advanced Research Catalog.