Saturday, January 28, 2017

John D. Rockefeller, Jr’s Memorial
At an August 27, 2016 ceremony, during year-long centennial celebrations, the National Park Service deputy director and the Acadia National Park superintendent presented a long-overdue replacement memorial plaque honoring John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to David Rockefeller, Sr. and family members.*1 The bronze plaque was funded by private donations.

The original plaque, located on a rock wall overlooking the ocean at Otter Cliff, had been vandalized some time by 1991.*2 The word American had been pounded out.

The plaque inscription reads:
JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER, JR. 1874 – 1960

These groves of spruce and fir, these granite ledges, this magnificent window on the sea, were given to the United States by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. He was among the first to sense the need to preserve America’s natural beauty and to set high standards of environmental quality. This quiet, dedicated conservationist gave generously of his time, wisdom and resources to help establish this park and others for the physical, cultural and spiritual benefit of the American people.

Library of Congress
JDR, Jr. (c.1915)
No other person is more responsible for the size and overwhelming popularity of Acadia National Park than John D. Rockefeller, Jr. The fifth smallest national park at 49,000 acres, with 31,000 acres at its main location on Maine’s Mount Desert Island, had an estimated 3.3 million visitors in 2016.
He donated $3,568,000 to the Park and related projects.*3 He gave it over 11,000 acres, helped finance and construct its 27-mile Park Loop Road and built a 53-mile network of carriage roads. Forty-five miles of those roads are in the Park today and include 17 unique stone bridges and 2 gatehouses. Locally, he gave Seal Harbor the land for its village green, after buying the old Glencove Hotel and having it torn down in 1919. In 1948 he gave 30 acres to the Jackson Memorial Laboratory in Bar Harbor after the widely devastating 1947 fire had destroyed the facility.

JDR, Jr., the only son of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. (founder and president of Standard Oil Company) and Laura Spelman Rockefeller, was born in Cleveland, OH in 1874. He married Abby Greene Aldrich in 1901. They came to Mount Desert Island in 1908 and rented a Bar Harbor cottage called The Briars on the Shore Path off Wayman Lane. There Abby gave birth to their son, Nelson, later to be New York governor and U.S. vice president. JDR, Jr. had first come to the island in 1893 while a student at Brown University. In 1909 he and his family became summer residents of Seal Harbor and the next year purchased The Eyrie, a 150-acre estate.
He died of pneumonia in Tucson, AZ in 1960 and was buried in the Rockefeller Family Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, NY. In his will he left the U.S. Government an additional 1,500 acres on Mount Desert Island for “the extension or improvement of Acadia National Park.”

1 A special thanks goes to Earl Brechlin and the Mount Desert Islander newspaper for reporting this event.
2 Memorial GPS coordinates: N44° 18.482' W068° 11.345'


  1. Don, I'm sorry. Completely missed it. Glad you did not have to rely on me.

    1. Thank you, Jim, for your interest, support and always reliable help.