“La Rochelle” // 1903

“La Rochelle”, one of the many beautiful summer “cottages” in Bar Harbor, Maine, sits on West Street, a well-preserved stretch of mansions that showcase Gilded Age wealth in the town. The cottage dates back to the 1902-3, when George Sullivan Bowdoin, great-grandson of Alexander Hamilton, and partner at J.P. Morgan, and his wife, Julia Irving Grinnell Bowdoin, a great niece of Washington Irving) commissioned the Boston architectural firm of Andrews, Jacques & Rantoul to design a cottage for them. They hoped to spend their summers away from New York, where they could rub elbows with other wealthy and well-connected summer residents in Bar Harbor. The French Renaissance style cottage, known as La Rochelle, became one of the first Bar Harbor mansions constructed of brick. The forty-one room, 13,000 square foot cottage was built with twelve bedrooms and nine full-bathrooms on two acres of land, which backs up to the Mount Desert Narrows and harbor. The name La Rochelle comes from La Rochelle, a seaport in Nouvelle, Aquitaine, France, where George’s ancestors lived before settling in present-day Maine (later moving to Boston). In the 1940s, Tristram C. Colket of Philadelphia and his wife (the former Ethel Dorrance, daughter of John T. Dorrance, the Campbell’s Soup king) acquired La Rochelle. In 1972, La Rochelle’s owners, the Colket family, donated it to The Maine Seacoast Mission, who then sold it in 2019 to the Bar Harbor Historical Society.

2 thoughts on ““La Rochelle” // 1903

  1. mayfat October 9, 2021 / 4:22 pm


    My wife and I are the owners of 71 Carlton Street in Brookline which has been listed in your blog.

    I thought that you might appreciate a photo of the home circa 1886 and an engraved image of the home published the same year. We believe that engraved image was made from the photo.

    Your post states the home at 71 Carlton St. is the John Wales Home. It was actually built for George Wales, the son of John Wales. We believe that the father and son built 71 and 79 Carlton together. The two homes face each other and shared the same property and carriage house. The property was subdivided into two lots before 1900 we believe.

    Here is a listing of the home by the Brookline Preservation Commission: https://www.brooklinema.gov/DocumentCenter/View/18393/Carlton-St_71_LHD-Report_January-2019?bidId=

    In the attached photograph, two homes are included. The top image is the home of John Wales and where George was raised. It was located at the corner of Carlton and Monmouth St. and was torn down and replaced by an apartment building. The bottom picture is of 71 Carlton St.

    The photos were sent to me by a descendant of John Wales while doing research in preparation of restoring the home.

    George built a larger home Carlton Street on the south side of Beacon and moved his family there before 1900.

    I’ve also included a photo of George and his father John.

    Best Regards,




    • Buildings of New England October 10, 2021 / 9:07 pm

      That is so great!! I would love to see the old photo!

      I got John Wales as the 1888 Bromley Map shows John as the owner of the two homes, with a shared driveway between the two homes.

      Email me at buildingsofnewengland@gmail.com

      Thanks for reaching out.


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