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F. Herrmann with cigar


©2013 Army Armstrong Films, LLC
(58 minutes)

A presentation with the Vinalhaven Land Trust and the Vinalhaven Historical Society

Just as the U.S. entered World War I in 1917, a man named Franz Herrmann, a frequent summer visitor to Vinalhaven, suddenly bought Elisha and Addie Roberts' farm and began spending lavishly on renovations, new barns and a bevy of other buildings, roads, gardens and pathways, transforming this simple farm into a lively, productive site, the Herrmann Estate. Herrmann was congenial, generous, hired scores of farm workers, treated them well, and gave to the needy. But who was he really, this so-called "alien enemy," a German citizen? Why was he here? Where did the money come from? Rumors ran rampant that he was a spy or German agent, but no proof was ever uncovered. After his sudden death in 1921, the property remained inactive for many years, until a New York doctor, Paluel Flagg, found it ideal for his 12 children. In the 1970s, a section of the estate was purchased by Charlotte Goodhue. There have been some changes of course, but to this day, both families are firmly committed to preserving the legacy of the Herrmann Estate, unspoiled by thoughtless development, a treasured asset for the island community.

Ninety years after his death, Franz Herrmann is all but forgotten. This film explores the mystery of the man, and the history of the estate and its people.

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