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Mount Desert Island: Shaped by Nature

Northeast Harbor: From Rustic to Rusticators

Charles W. Eliot, Mount Desert, 1904

Charles W. Eliot, Mount Desert, 1904

Item 21053 info
Great Harbor Maritime Museum

In his essay, "Memories of a Lifetime," A.C. Savage says, "In 1870 we began taking summer boarders and I may say that we were the first house to open its doors to 'Rusticators' at Northeast Harbor. Among our first guests were Commodore Fyffe and family, and some noted artists, Holligsworth, Brown and others." At that same time, Squire Daniel Kimball also began opening his house to take in rusticators. Thus began the advent of summer people. In 1880, the first summer people came to Northeast Harbor to stay for the season. Charles W. Eliot, Jr. came with some peers from Harvard and set up the Champlain Society. Eliot's father, Charles W. Eliot, was the President of Harvard. The younger Eliot came and set up tents just south of where the lumber mill had been and studied the scientific aspects of the Island. He later told his father that this was where they should have a summer house, and within a year, their house, The Ancestral was completed. Also arriving in 1880 were Episcopal Bishop William Crosswell Doane, who came and stayed with Squire Kimball, and Joseph Henry Curtis who purchased the old Thomas Wasgatt house on the east side of the harbor and renovated it. Bishop Doane constructed his house, Magnum Donum, on land sold to him by Daniel Kimball the following winter, and lived it in the next summer. Mrs. Carl E. Kelley, in her paper about these early rusticators says "they came here for peace and rest and to seek inspiration from the natural beauty of the sea and hills."


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