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Mount Desert Island: Shaped by Nature

Northeast Harbor: From Rustic to Rusticators

Northeast Harbor school bell, ca. 1881

Northeast Harbor school bell, ca. 1881

Item 21074 info
Great Harbor Maritime Museum

Though there were many things meant primarily for the summer residents of Northeast Harbor, residents like Daniel Coit Gilman made improvements to benefit the local people. One of Gilman's main interests was the education of the children in Northeast Harbor; a sensible concern, as he was the first president of Johns Hopkins University. Although Northeast Harbor did have a school by 1870, education was not especially common past elementary school. The original school was constructed on the southern end of Millbrook Road. It had at least eleven students in 1870 and was used until 1881 when the new school was built. At that point, as was common with old buildings, it was given a new purpose and a new location. In 1881, a new school was built at the present Wadsworth Park. This school served for a number of years and was also used in 1888 as a Free High School, taught by a Mr. W.W.A. Heath of Seal Cove. Selection of high school students wasn't very specific as there were high school students that were eight years old. This school only lasted eight years, at which point it was moved onto Main Street and turned into a livery. Fred Savage designed a new school in 1896, but it was not used regularly. In 1905, Daniel Coit Gilman and Dr. William R. Huntington arranged a special town meeting, spoke before the Selectmen, and said that that the summer residents would be willing to have taxes raised for the "general welfare," meaning more consistent high school education. This prompted a more regular education schedule beginning in 1906. The school was enlarged in 1907 and named Gilman High School in honor of Daniel Coit Gilman.
This is the bell from the second school in Northeast Harbor.

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