Experience
the Park

Home » Experience the Park » Roosevelt Cottage

TEXT SIZE A A A

Roosevelt Cottage

Franklin D. Roosevelt's magnificent 34-room residence is the centerpiece of Roosevelt Campobello International Park.


Franklin Roosevelt spent many enjoyable vacations at his summer home on Campobello Island in New Brunswick’s Bay of Fundy. Today the summer home is the centerpiece of Roosevelt Campobello International Park, and is preserved as a memorial and as a symbol of the close friendship between Canada and the United States.


Tour FDR's summer home

FDR’s “cottage” has been preserved, and is almost exactly as it was in 1920, the summer before Franklin was stricken with polio. At your own pace, tour both floors of the 34-room memorabilia filled cottage. Guides stationed throughout the home offer interpretation and answer questions about the house, its historic furnishings, and the family. A ramp provides easy access to the first floor.


Summer home history

Now known as the FDR summer home, the “cottage” was built in 1897 for Mrs. Hartman Kuhn, of Boston. Mrs. Kuhn developed a fondness for Eleanor when Franklin and Eleanor summered at his mother’s cottage next door. A provision in Mrs. Kuhn’s will offered her cottage to FDR’s mother, Sara, for $5000.00. Sara purchased the furnished cottage and 5 acres of land in 1909. Sara gave the cottage to Franklin and Eleanor. The growing family spent summers in the cottage from 1909 to 1921. Franklin altered the design of the house in 1915, when he added a new wing to provide additional space for his growing family.


Architecture

FDR’s summer home exhibits design principles of the Arts and Crafts movement, and also elements of early American Colonial architecture. Considerations in the design of summer homes of the era were comfort, a building orientation to a scenic view and to the sun, and a “picturesque charm” so valued by the Arts and Crafts Movement. Size, verandas, and numbers and types of rooms were also important.

Painting by Michael Chesley Johnson

The building is about 36 meters long (119') and 10 meters (33') wide. It contains 34 rooms, 18 of which are bedrooms and 6 of which are bathrooms. There are 76 windows and 7 fireplaces.

The sides of the 21/2 story, wood-framed structure are covered with cedar shingles. Originally, the roof was covered with cedar shingles as well. (For fire protection, the roof is now covered with asphalt shingles.) Room interiors are finished with lath and plaster. Windows, doors, and baseboards are generously trimmed with wood.

Franklin, Eleanor, and their growing family spent many summers at the cottage on Campobello Island.

Cottage life

The cottage was comfortable, but had neither electricity nor telephone. Kerosene lamps and candles provided light. Seven fireplaces and kitchen coal and wood-fired stoves provided heat.

Running water for bathing, cooking, and cleaning came from storage tanks on the third floor of the cottage. The storage tanks were fed by gravity from a tank atop a nearby windmill. Drinking water came in large bottles by horse and cart, from a spring called Barrel Well.

Every summer, the Roosevelts brought a nurse and a governess to tutor and instruct the children, and several servants to run the cottage. Campobello residents were hired to help with the daily chores.

Because days could be foggy and evenings cool, indoor activities played an important role in the summer routine. The children played games, FDR spent time working on his stamp collection, and Eleanor knitted, wrote letters and read.

In the evenings, Eleanor regularly read aloud to the children and guests. Social activities included dancing at the hotels and occasional evening parties for the children, such as hay rides and taffy pulls.


Roosevelt Cottage Hours

The Cottage is open 7 days a week, from the Saturday following Victoria Day through the Saturday following Canadian Thanksgiving (Saturday prior to U.S. Memorial Day through the Saturday following U.S. Columbus Day), 10:00am-6:00pm ADT / 9:00am-5:00pm EDT Last tour at 5:45 ADT; 4:45 EDT