Presidential Visits To The Queen City Part 2
Through the years, a dozen sitting Presidents have made their way through the Bangor area.
When the first President arrived Bangor had been incorporated less than 40 years.
"I think it's because Bangor is sort of a crossroads community," said Dana Lippitt of the Bangor Museum and Historical Society. "It's surrounded by smaller communities, and whenever a President comes, it's really the closest we have to royalty."
The first President to visit Bangor was the 18th, Ulysses S. Grant in 1871, and he was one of just two Presidents to stay in the Queen City. Many of them made appearances at the Bangor House.
"That was the finest hotel It was one of the Palace Hotels and they almost always stayed there."said Lippitt. "There's great pictures of Taft on the balcony over the Main Street side, giving a speech to thousands and thousands of people who filled the streets."
Not all of the Chief Executives stayed in Bangor. Some just stopped on their way through.
"You had Taft and then you had whistle stops, Chester Arthur and Benjamin Harrison in the late 1800's, Arthur I think went into the Bangor House and met with people and shook hands."said local Author and Bangor Historian Dick Shaw. "There's a big gap between 1910 when President Taft came and then it was all the way until 1955 before Eisenhower came through. He'd been fishing in Western Maine, and unbelievable in those times, you could take a man in a car all the way Route 2 a hundred miles all the way from Rangeley Lakes area right through Skowhegan into Bangor, Dow Field."
While no President's came during that 45 year span, there was one other White House visit.
"The first lady visited the city," said Lippitt. "Eleanor Roosevelt came through here quite often, there were several events that she stayed for."
"FDR came through here many times as a young man on the train on the way to Campabello," said Shaw. "But never as President after he was stricken with polio in 1921 in Campabello, he came back only three times there and I think his life was in Washington it was too much of an ordeal so he never made an official visit here, but Eleanor his wife came to the old auditorium in 1941, the next best thing."
The fourth time a President visited was early in the 20th century.
"Teddy Roosevelt came, spoke at the Bangor House and then he went down to what then was Maplewood Park," Shaw recounted. "And the Bangor Fair was going on and everyone was asked to pay a dollar to hear the President speak, and it was actually like a mini scandal because a dollar was a lot of money in 1902."
Bangor has been a campaign stop for many candidates, both winners and losers of November elections, so the dozen Presidents to visit could be considered much more according to Shaw. "Bangor's had a number of future Presidents, McKinley and Garfield, and well, past Presidents, Hoover, Herbert Hoover was here as an old man was here, so when people say what President's have been here, you know you, once a President always a President, I. don't think it's anything you really retire from, so it's royalty in our city it is the Queen City after all."