Wolfeboro, N.H. Sees Only Upside To Romney As President
WOLFEBORO, N.H. — Mitt Romney has three homes: a condo in Belmont, a beachfront house in La Jolla, Calif., and a lakefront home in Wolfeboro, N.H.
The presumptive Republican nominee for president bought the Wolfeboro house in 1997, and it gave him a kind of native-son status in this year’s New Hampshire primary.
He spends part of every summer there with his large family. He was there this past weekend, and WBUR went to find out what impact people feel Romney’s election to the presidency might have on the town.
‘The Oldest Summer Resort In America’
Wolfeboro calls itself “the oldest summer resort in America, established 1770.” You see the sign at the dock when you take a boat ride onto Lake Winnipesaukee with John MacDonald.
“People discovered it a long time ago, and generations of people have come up here,” MacDonald says.
MacDonald, a retired state trooper, drives the Millie B, a wooden speedboat owned by the New Hampshire Boat Museum. He remembers the shores lined with summer camps, but eventually the value of the land, he says, outweighed the value of having the kids come to stay for the summer.
He points out some of the homes that populate the shore now: Drew Barrymore’s, the place where Jack Lemmon used to stay and the Marriott estate. It was the Marriotts who introduced the Romneys to the lake.
“The house over there to the right with the three-bay boathouse garage, that’s Gov. Romney’s residence,” MacDonald says, pointing to the house.
The New Hampshire Marine Patrol has a boat stationed in front of the house, and a Coast Guard boat runs back and forth.
“It’s a beautiful old place. I like the glass window in the boathouse — the eyelash window, I guess they called it in the old days,” he says, referring to the eyebrow dormer. “If you go in too close, you’re kinda told by the Coast Guard to pull out a little bit.”
Back at the dock, Heather Peterson, from Goffstown, is sitting at a picnic table with friends. She has been spending summers in the Lakes Region for 20 years.
“I think it’s such a quaint little downtown that people really love coming here for the summers,” Peterson says. “It’s just kind of a throwback to family summers here.”
Peterson saw Romney and his family over the Fourth of July holiday.
“It was funny,” Peterson says. “He was in a small Boston whaler, and looked like he was just picking up his family at the dock, and if you hadn’t seen the Coast Guard and the Marine Patrol boats around him, you wouldn’t have necessarily known he was anyone but a vacationer up here.”
Peterson thinks Romney’s election would be good for Wolfeboro.
“It’s exciting, and certainly it would be a great boost for this area if that were to happen,” she says.
Black’s is at the center of town. It’s the store where everyone comes through at one point or another. John Ricco works there.
“The last couple of years hasn’t been all that great,” Ricco says. “This last year has been really [good]. Some of it is due in part to the fact that Romney’s in town. There are a lot of people in town who come to town just to see if they can find him, see him.”
When Romney bought the lake house, Ricco did some landscaping for him.
“He seems to be a great guy,” Ricco says. “He’s a normal guy. I’ve seen him running around town in his shorts just like everybody else.”
The summer business is always good at Nordic Skier Sports. The store has been in business since 1972. Tim White works there. He says it’s one of the few bike shops in the Lakes Region.
“Don’t beat a path to our door,” White says. “We only have so many.”
White has never seen Romney in the store.
“He must have his own bike,” White says. “Actually, the Secret Service has yanked our chain a couple of times about renting bikes for the detail, but it’s never happened. They did it in ’07, I think it was, when Nicholas Sarkozy was here. The French Secret Service rented from us. They were a funny bunch.”
White moved to the area in the ’80s to bike and ski, and started working at the store. He says even on the best summer days, it’s complete gridlock in Wolfeboro.
“Well, on the busy summer days, there’s nothing you can do about the fact that that’s a state highway, and it’s also Main Street,” White says. “It’s just stop and… I would say stop and go, but it’s mostly stop and stop for usually hours in the middle of the day.”
White predicts that even if Romney becomes president, the congestion won’t get any worse.