In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Mount Desert Island: Shaped by Nature

Cottagers

Chatwold, Bar Harbor, ca. 1900
Chatwold, Bar Harbor, ca. 1900

Item Contributed by
Jesup Memorial Library

As Mount Desert Island’s visitor count rose, many wealthy rusticators opted for greater luxury and privacy and built their own summer “cottages.” By 1890, the cottage-building boom had transformed Bar Harbor. It outdid the rest of the island in the number and sheer opulence of these seasonal homes, all given grandly imaginative names such as “Bogue Chitto,” “Bournemouth,” “Chatwold,” and “Thirlstane.” The town’s cottagers included well-born or self-made millionaires with prominent names like Astor, Pendleton, Procter, Pulitzer, Sears, and Vanderbilt.

Italian Garden, Bar Harbor ca. 1910
Italian Garden, Bar Harbor ca. 1910

Item Contributed by
Jesup Memorial Library
Residence of D. C. Blair, Bar Harbor, ca. 1900
Residence of D. C. Blair, Bar Harbor, ca. 1900

Item Contributed by
Jesup Memorial Library

Villages on the island’s western side—Somesville, Southwest Harbor, Northeast Harbor, and Seal Harbor—followed a different course of development than Bar Harbor. They drew a greater proportion of the cottagers and visitors who were inclined toward nature and artistic or intellectual pursuits. Overall, their homes and hotels were less extravagant than those in Bar Harbor. But there were monumental exceptions, such as John D. Rockefeller’s 100-room “Eyrie” and New York physician Edward Dunham’s sprawling “Keewaydin” with its 35-foot-high stone tower – both in Seal Harbor.

Bird’s eye view of Bar Harbor in the heyday of hotels, cottages and Indian encampments, 1886
Bird’s eye view of Bar Harbor in the heyday of hotels, cottages and Indian encampments, 1886
Bird's-eye view maps like this 1886 panorama of Bar Harbor were popular all across the country in the second half of the nineteenth century. Typically, civic leaders commissioned them for promotional purposes.
Item Contributed by
Boston Public Library

There was one of the finest masquerade balls ever given at Bar Harbor at Mrs. P. Walley’s summer villa, on Eden Street, last Tuesday night. The first of the place were there. There were the cottage aristocracy, the rich and distinguished hotel guests and every one almost who was of more than ordinary note. -Bangor Daily Whig & Courier, 19 August 1886.