Skip to main content

Gambling On An Island

March 2023
1min read

“If you want to save a piece of history and preserve a Maine island of natural beauty,” commented the Maine Times, “you can do one of three things: be born a millionaire and buy it outright; interest a conservation group or foundation in buying it, and hope that they will respond in time to save it … or take a king-size gamble like going into debt to raise a down payment and working like mad to raise the balance from other conservationists you know must be out there somewhere …”

Last March, three mmmillionaires in Kennebunkport took the king-size gamble when they heard that Vaughn ‘s Island, thirty-five acres of unspoiled sand, salt marsh, and pine just off the Maine coast, had a developer ready to buy. Alexander B. Brook, Sterling Dow III, and Alexander Armentrout formed a trust binding them to preserve the island for the people of Maine and took an option on the $60,000 property. A donor put up collateral for a bank loan for the down payment, and the three trustees obligated themselves to pay $10,000 every six months until the $60,000 was paid off. As interest fees and other expenses mounted, including an $18,000 out-of-court settlement with the developer, what at first had seemed a not too impossible task of raising $10,000 by September 14 quickly became a $45,000 anxiety. Funds were raised by an auction and a Labor Day lobster bake. “But what really brings in the money, ” says Mr. Brook, who is editor-publisher of the York County Coast Star, “is personal letters to local people we know and particularly personal visits. They take time, but they bring it in.” The Vaughn‘s Island Preservation Trust got its $45,000. “It shows you people will respond,” says Brook. March 14 is due day for their next $10,000 plus $1,000 interest on outstanding notes.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this 72-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.


Stories published from "February 1970"

Authored by: David McCullough

The wrecker’s ball swings in every city in the land, and memorable edifices of all kinds are coming down at a steady clip.

Authored by: Frank Graham Jr.

From a way Down East came a stench of politics and potatoes, and news of a border incident that true patriots will long remember as

Authored by: Allan L. Damon

In reprisal for a Tory atrocity, Washington ordered the hanging of a captive British officer chosen by lot. He was nineteen.

Authored by: Alvin M. Josephy Jr.

Between the ages of fifteen and twenty, young Peter Rindisbacher captured on canvas the lives of Indians and white pioneers on the Manitoba—Minnesota frontier

Authored by: Thomas Fleming

Benevolent father figure? Bloody-handed Cossack? Slow-witted flatfoot? Irish grafter? Brave but underpaid public servant? Check your prejudice against this inquiry into police history

Authored by: Tom Mccarthy

The lady author modelled her famous fictional creation after her own wonder boy —and condemned a generation of “manly little chaps” to velvet pants and curls

Authored by: Corey Ford

The furious speaker was Field Marshal Kesselring. The time was 1944. And the “shadow” was cast by Italian partisans and a handful of brave Americans from General Bill Donovan’s O.S.S.

Featured Articles

Often thought to have been a weak president, Carter was strong-willed in doing what he thought was right, regardless of expediency or the political fallout.

Rarely has the full story been told how a famed botanist, a pioneering female journalist, and First Lady Helen Taft battled reluctant bureaucrats to bring Japanese cherry trees to Washington. 

Why have thousands of U.S. banks failed over the years? The answers are in our history and politics.

In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln embodied leading in a time of polarization, political disagreement, and differing understandings of reality.

Native American peoples and the lands they possessed loomed large for Washington, from his first trips westward as a surveyor to his years as President.

A hundred years ago, America was rocked by riots, repression, and racial violence.

During Pres. Washington’s first term, an epidemic killed one tenth of all the inhabitants of Philadelphia, then the capital of the young United States.

Now a popular state park, the unassuming geological feature along the Illinois River has served as the site of centuries of human habitation and discovery.  

The recent discovery of the hull of the battleship Nevada recalls her dramatic action at Pearl Harbor and ultimate revenge on D-Day as the first ship to fire on the Nazis.

Our research reveals that 19 artworks in the U.S. Capitol honor men who were Confederate officers or officials. What many of them said, and did, is truly despicable.

Here is probably the most wide-ranging look at Presidential misbehavior ever published in a magazine.

When Germany unleashed its blitzkreig in 1939, the U.S. Army was only the 17th largest in the world. FDR and Marshall had to build a fighting force able to take on the Nazis, against the wishes of many in Congress.