12 sitting Presidents have been to Bangor, two of them spent the night in the city.
Those two visits and one from 2004 were the most interesting trips by the Commander in Chief.
It started with the first ever visit in 1871 by Ulysses S. Grant, according to Dana Lippitt of the Bangor Museum and Historical Society. "They had spent about 20 years connecting all the rail lines through Maine with Canada to shorten the sea voyage for goods going back and forth, and they had an enormous celebration, there were cotillions and parades and torch light parades and illuminations on houses. Grant came for all of that there were special train trips it was quite a party."
However there was some controversy, and there are a couple of differ versions of the events.
Bangor Author and Historian Dick Shaw says one version of the events made it out as though there might have been tension as the President was slated to dine with Bangor Mayor Samuel Dale "U.S. Grant came in 1871 and he basically was quote unquote for an hour or so by someone who didn't want him to go up to what is now the Historical Society building, and rode him around town. and well the former Union Commander wasn't anyone to be messing with, so he finally chomped on his cigar and said what's going on here, get me up there now and he basically did a walk through shook a few hands and front door, back door."
Lippitt recounts a slightly different version "They forgot to invite the President to dine with Mayor Dale and so someone went down to the Bangor House and got him to come up here and and he kind of came in one door and out the other. I do not know if it's true. The newspaper articles that following day said that he dined with Mr. Dale and there was another home of the Libby family that he also stopped in at, or dined at, and it doesn't say anything about coming in one door and going out the other"
The other President to stay in the city was Jimmy Carter, on February 17th, 1978.
"There was a drawing done here in Bangor of people who wanted to dine in a big public thing," said Lippitt. "We have the cards here they drew them out of a draft box that was used during the civil war."
The most interesting part of his stay was where he stayed. Not in a hotel but on Maple Street with the Murray family.
"It was part of his plan to get to know his constituents, not just his wealthy constituents, but his supporters within the Democratic party," said Lippitt.
"Well the Murrays were Middle America, they looked around you know, they were good Democrats, which wasn't a bad thing, they were supporters of Carter, the also lived on a corner of Maple and Mount Hope Avenue, so there wasn't a house on one side and there was a good distance in back so if you're the Secret Service, it was easier to protect the house and they had a family and they had a bedroom, it was a good deal of PR you know involved," said Shaw. "Today I don't think it would happen, but Carter being the Habitat for Humanity guy and he carried his own suitcase out, the media had like three minutes to meet with him, and then he went to bed, got up early the next morning, and then had a breakfast out at Husson"
The most recent sitting President to visit Bangor was George W. Bush during his re-election campaign in 2004.
"Very warm day in September," recalled Shaw. "What would it be 2004, it was a campaign stop, and then I never saw Air Force One, where was it? And then he actually went on a troop flight and met troops."
"But to actually, I don't know how much the troops on board actually knew what was going to happen, they could look out the window and see something but, and then all of the sudden there's the Chief Executive there in a blue tie," said Shaw.
And that day on the plane with US Troops, then President Bush grabbed the microphone to address them. "I appreciate being the president of such fine men and women, may God bless you all and keep you safe, and may God bless America."
According to notes given to WABI TV5 by Dick Shaw, the list of sitting Presidents to visit Bangor is :
October 17-18, 1871 - Ulysses S. Grant
September 13, 1882 - Chester A. Arthur
August 8, 1889 - Benjamin Harrison
August 27, 1902 - Theodore Roosevelt
July 23, 1910 - William Howard Taft
June 27, 1955 - Dwight D. Eishenhower (would return briefly in July 1955)
October 19, 1963 - John F. Kennedy (delivered last major foreign policy at University of Maine, Orono speech before being assasinated)
August 21, 1966 - Lyndon B. Johnson
August 6, 1971 - Richard Nixon
February 17, 1978 - Jimmy Carter
November 1, 1966 - Bill Clinton (also visited BIA January 9, 2006 to greet troops)
September 23, 2004 - George W. Bush
Presidential Visits To The Queen City Part 1