Built to replace the former St. Sylvia’s Catholic Church (1881-1909), the Church of the Holy Redeemer in Bar Harbor stands as one of the more imposing religious buildings in town. The new church was envisioned by Rev. James O’Brien, who wanted a larger church structure closer to downtown Bar Harbor than the current St. Sylvia’s. The Neo-Gothic stone church was designed by Bangor architect Victor Hodgins, and was constructed from granite blocks quarried from Washington County, Maine. Inside, massive trusses from felled cyprus trees nearby support the roof and stone walls. Gorgeous stained glass windows line the walls which flood the interior with color.
West Street in Bar Harbor was laid out in 1886, and developers laid out house lots on both sides, with larger, more expensive land right on the water. One of the earliest homes built on the street is Greenlawn, constructed in 1887 for William Rice, an industrialist who co-founded Rice & Hutchins, a shoe manufacturing company with main offices in Boston. The architectural firm of Rotch and Tilden, comprised of partners Arthur Rotch and George Thomas Tilden. Both had studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Both had worked at the architectural firm of Ware and Van Brunt, and would be best known for their Gilded age mansions in New England. By 1896, the cottage was owned by William L. Green, which is likely when the cottage’s name “Greenlawn” stuck. The house recently sold for $4.25 Million and the interiors are gorgeous!
“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.
One of the earlier summer cottages in Bar Harbor is Ullikana, a Queen Anne style cottage, verging on Tudor Revival style. The cottage was built in 1885 for Alpheus Hardy (1815-1887) a trader in Boston. Hardy gained his wealth in shipping. He got his start by buying a small and fast ship that could make the voyage to the Mediterranean and back so quickly that he and his other investors captured much of the fruit importing business. His company would grow to have over 15 ships going as far as China. Hardy hired the Boston architectural firm of Cummings & Sears to design a new summer cottage in Bar Harbor, Maine, an ever-growing rival to Newport. He could only enjoy the cottage for two years, when in 1887, while cutting coupons, he dropped the scissors, the sharp points piercing his leg. Blood poisoning followed and death resulted. The summer cottage was owned by his family as a rental cottage for a number of years until it was purchased by the Maine Central Railroad, and rented to the recently widowed Princess Miguel de Bragança of Portugal, the former Anita Rhinelander Stewart. The cottage is now an inn.