Initially erected in 1877 and enlarged several times thereafter, the St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church in Bar Harbor is an excellent example of ecclesiastical architecture in the state of Maine. The original church building had been erected in 1877-78 at a cost of about $7,000 from designs by the New York architect Charles C. Haight. Within eight years of its construction, space limitations caused the church to undertake a major expansion. Designed by the Boston architectural firm of Rotch and Tilden, this building campaign – carried out in 1885-86 – dramatically changed the church’s appearance by developing a cross shaped plan that made use of the original structure for transepts and added a larger nave, semi-circular apse, and an imposing crossing tower. The numerous building campaigns designed by both prominent and lesser known architects, have produced a rich eclectic architectural legacy that mirrors the development of Bar Harbor.
The marriage of Anna Perkins Pingree to Joseph Peabody in 1866 was a merging of two of the most influential and wealthy families of Salem, Massachusetts. The marriage however did not meet the mark, as the couple eventually had a large falling-out after purchasing a mansion in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood in 1877. In her time away from her estranged husband, Anna became heavily involved in the arts, collecting hundreds of paintings and decorating her homes in Boston, Ipswich, and her new summer cottage in Bar Harbor. In 1896, she had her Bar Harbor cottage built on West Street, a road of substantial summer homes right next to downtown. The Colonial Revival “cottage” sits on the waterfront of Frenchman Bay and has only 12 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms, in 12,500 square feet.
Built in 1901, “The Crossways” is one of Bar Harbor’s most stunning summer cottages built in the 20th century. The home was designed by the illustrious Boston architectural firm of Andrews, Jaques and Rantoul, possibly as part of the of the William B. Rice estate. The home appears to have been rented in early years until it was occupied by Edward and Esther Mears. Edward ran a hotel in town during the summer months before getting involved in real estate, where he made much more money. The home blends together the best of architectural styles of the time from Queen Anne to Shingle Style, and remains in an excellent state of preservation.
As wealthy citizens from cities like Boston, Philadelphia and New York, began building summer cottages on Mount Desert Island in Maine, an influx of carpenters and tradespeople from Ireland followed to construct and work on them. Realizing this, cottager DeGrasse Fox along with Brooks White of Philadelphia, donated land for a new Catholic church building. Maine architect, William Ralph Emerson, donated plans for the church. A masterpiece of Shingle style design, the church, which seated 300 people, was deemed too small for the growing village’s summer congregation. A new, stone church was built closer to town (featured previously). The spire and belfry resemble another church Emerson designed in Beverly, MA, St. Margaret’s Catholic Church. Sadly, St. Sylvia’s burned down in 1909.
Located next door to “The Poplars” (last post), another summer cottage Thornhedge, stands out for its architectural splendor and great state of preservation. Similar to “The Poplars”, the home was built in 1900 for Lewis A. Roberts, a retired book publisher from Boston. Roberts ran the publishing house with his brothers, and they published work by authors including Emily Dickinson, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and George Sand, the first American edition of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, and had their greatest commercial success with Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. The business was purchased by Little and Brown Publishing in 1898. Lewis Roberts died in 1901, only a year after completing Thornhedge, and the house came under the care of his son, Lewis Niles Roberts. Mr. Roberts kept the house as a summer residence until 1920, then sold it to the family of William F. Frick, a prominent judge from Baltimore. The home became an inn by the 1970s. Thornhedge is a Queen Anne style cottage which was originally organized with the first and second floor serving as the living quarters and the top and bottom floors for the servants. The laundry, servants dining hall, and kitchen were out of sight in the finished basement, with a dumb-waiter to bring hot food to the butler’s pantry. The third floor was the servants’ living quarters.
It’s Tudor Tuesday so I have to share one of the great Tudor Revival cottages in Bar Harbor, Maine, “The Poplars” (because any good summer cottage needs a name)! The cottage was built in 1899-1900 for Lewis A. Roberts, a retired book publisher from Boston, who purchased the lot which contained a summer cottage and stable, razing both. He hired the local firm of Goddard & Hunt, an architect/builder duo who worked on many projects in the village. The Tudor Revival cottage was only occupied in the summer months by Roberts and his family as the home was not winterized at the time. The cottage was built of wood and rough stucco work with rough timber trimmings all hallmarks of the Tudor style. The home was later known as the Stratford House, and became an inn until just a couple years ago. It was recently listed for sale and has 13 bedrooms and 13 bathrooms!
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.
“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.