STORIES OF ACADIA: The heir to the rusticator legacy
David Rockefeller Jr.
Favorite spot: The Jordan Pond House lawn, though “I don’t necessarily love it when there are 1,000 people,” and the top of Pemetic Mountain.
David Rockefeller Jr.’s grandfather helped to establish Acadia National Park 100 years ago. The beautiful stone bridges he commissioned are still known today as “Mr. Rockefeller’s bridges,” while park maintenance workers charged with mowing around the large “coping stones” that line park trails and roads sometimes call it “flossing Mr. Rockefeller’s teeth.”
Rockefeller Jr. has been visiting Maine since his birth. Though he lives in New York City now, he returns to the family’s Seal Cove estate several times a year.
In the beginning, the word “Acadia” wasn’t uttered very often, as he remembers.
“I was there for the first time when I was about five years old. At that point, I think it was all ‘Maine,’” he said. “In fact, we said, ‘We’re going to Maine.’ We didn’t say, ‘We’re going to Acadia,’ or ‘MDI’ or even ‘Seal Harbor.’ We were going to Maine.”
And like the other Rockefellers, he quickly became enamored of the place.
“The things I remembered, early on, are not so much about just Acadia as separate from MDI, but the whole feeling, of the beaches, mountains, the ocean, and the interrelationship between all of them. I have wonderful memories as a young boy playing in the water — I can’t believe we actually used to swim when we were tiny, off the Seal Harbor Beach that’s near Little Long Pond.”
Eventually, Rockefeller began to take more notice of the park itself. Its majestic beauty never gets old, he said.
“I think the thing that’s so remarkable, which I first learned more intuitively, and now more statistically, is the proximity of high places to the ocean — and beautiful places at that — and preserved places,” he said. “You have ponds. You have hills that we call mountains. You have the ocean and the islands … if you were a landscape planner, you would be thrilled at your accomplishment in planning Acadia National Park and the surrounding waters.”
He didn’t have to think long about his favorite spots in the park, though he hopes mentioning the park’s gems won’t make them any more crowded than they already are.
“I think the whole Jordan Pond House lawn and view is so iconic. I don’t necessarily love it when there are 1,000 people as well as I do when I come up in the winter and there’s ice fishing on the pond, but it is just a great, great view, and iconic,” he said. “My other favorite place is the top of Pemetic. And the whole climb. It is not as well known, for some reason, as some of the others, and I think it’s fabulous.”
And about that ritual “flossing Mr. Rockefeller’s teeth”?
David Rockefeller Jr. chuckled when he heard the phrase, but wasn’t entirely surprised.
“I haven’t heard the flossing part, but we were very aware that the coping stones along the edges of the roadways were called ‘Mr. Rockefeller’s teeth,’” he said. “We always thought that was very funny.”