On January 19, 1929, Lafayette National Park was renamed Acadia National Park by an act of Congress.
Park founder George B. Dorr had originally chosen the name “Lafayette” to facilitate his drive to designate “Sieur de Monts National Momument” as a National Park. While Dorr was working to move the necessary legislation through Congress, World War I was raging in Europe. Lafayette, the name of the Frenchman who had served alongside George Washington in the Revolutionary War, was now the name given to squadrons of American pilots fighting for France. As Dorr wrote in his memoir The Story of Acadia National Park, “That was a time when the whole east was taking the war in the spirit of a high crusade and Lafayette’s name was foremost in men’s thoughts.” In order to capture the attention of Congress and get his legislation passed, Dorr associated the park with the current events and prevailing sentiment with the name Lafayette National Park.
By the late 1920s, though, French fervor had waned. Dorr had an opportunity to add to the park a large, undeveloped tract on the tip of the Schoodic Peninsula, which had been left by Steuben native John G. Moore to his daughters. Both daughters lived in England (one had married a British Lord), and wished to preserve the land but objected to the French name Lafayette. Because Dorr also needed a new act of Congress to allow the park to acquire property beyond Mount Desert Island, it was easy enough to incorporate a name change into that legislation. He chose Acadia “because of its old historical associations and descriptive character.” On January 19, 1929, Acadia National Park was officially given its name and the way was paved for the park to acquire the Schoodic District.
On this day, we celebrate not only the Name Day of Acadia, but the spirit of philanthropy that built this magnificent park out of countless gifts of private land, large and small.