A dream of the S.S. Roosevelt Museum and Information Center on Verona Island

Apr 11, 2014

Seven years ago the historic bridge, the Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory, was built between Prospect and Verona Island, creating a new major attraction in the area, Fort Knox in Prospect being one and the lesser known S.S. Roosevelt Memorial at the park on Verona Island being the other. In 1904 a special ship was built on Verona Island, at the request of President Theodore Roosevelt, for Admiral Richard Perry’s trip to the North Pole.

A group of Verona Island residents felt that it was time for a museum to be established for the S.S. Roosevelt including an information center for the new bridge and surrounding area. The location of the land for the museum was a problem because it had to be located as close to the new bridge as possible. The small Rest Area was the only spot that would work since it was one of the areas that the Department of Transportation was thinking of getting rid of. The Verona Island Historical Society decided to contact the DOT about its availability.

It is the intention of the Society that the museum would have many important uses: not only would it tell the historic story of Verona Island but it would also represent the surrounding towns. Brochures will be given out for public information about the bridge and the communities in the area. Space will be planned for educational and entertainment activities for both young and old. Special projects will be available for the children year round.

With this possibility in mind the Society contacted a state archivist and a local law firm for advice. Proper “by-laws” were written, federal and state forms were submitted and a line of communication with the DOT was established. It was necessary to complete the various forms to allow for various donations and grant money to be requested for this special venture.

The DOT agreed to give the rest area to the town of Verona Island providing the voters of the town voted to accept it. The town would, upon the voter’s acceptance, turn the property over to the Historical Society. We were unable to disclose much detail of the project until the land became available so the first time many voters had to learn of the details was at the town meeting held on March 29. The original vote ended in a tie, thus preventing the town from accepting the land. The society is presently preparing for another submission for a vote with additional visual information available to the voters so they will understand what is proposed and its value to the community.

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