One of Bar Harbor’s more colorful summer denizens was New York philantropist and socialite Peter Marie. His family, having made it’s fortune in banking, enabled Marie pursue a life of leisure relatively early in life. The consummate bon vivant, Marie was host to a variety of social activities throughout the summer colony. One of these, a ladie’s putting contest, was a regular event that was held on the back lawn of Mira Monte. The accompanying photo shows one such competition, circa 1900. These events were embued with all the pageantry of the guilded age- note the banners and floral garlands surrounding the green and the imported palms decorating the gallery. The ladies in the competition are seen elegantly attired in the latest 19th century “sportswear”.
Mira Monte History: In 1890, eminent Philadelphia physician and naturalist Henry C. Chapman bought the Ash Cottage from Orlando Ash to use as a permanent summer residence. Among his many distinctions, Dr. Chapman had been Professor of Medicine and Medical Jurisprudence at Jefferson Medical College and served as curator of Philadelphia’s Academy of Natural Sciences from 1875 until his death. Upon purchasing the cottage, Dr. Chapman and his wife Hannah added the Greek portico and columns that now surround the porch and renamed their estate Mira Monte, meaning “behold the mountains”.
Mrs. Chapman enjoyed entertaining, and Mira Monte was to become something of a social hub in those days. While not unknown to the society pages of the era, Dr. Chapman is remembered in Bar Harbor as first and foremost a humble and amiable man of science who “endeavored in every way in his power to minimize the distinction between the summer colony and the year-round residents” of the village. As recalled in memorium in the Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences:
“Here for nearly thirty years he pursued his studies of the flora and fauna of Mt. Desert island, the latter in a little laboratory on the water’s edge. Here the fishermen, all his devoted friends, brought whatever of interest they succeeded in securing from the waters.”
Chapman was also to play an active role in the civic life of the town and became a director of the local library.
After Dr. Chapman’s sudden death at the home in 1908, likely from a gastric ulcer, his widow continued in the role of hostess until her passing on Christmas day, 1931, exactly 90 years ago.
Each year we continue to discover new details that add to the rich history of the Mira Monte. New research has revealed that the inn was the summer home of one of the preeminent politicians of the gilded age, James G Blaine, during the presidential campaign of 1884 . Though little discussed today outside academic circles, he was a household name to his contemporaries. Nicknamed “the plumed knight” Blaine held numerous public offices throughout his long and storied career including speaker of the house, United States senator and US secretary of state. A perennial presidential favorite, Blaine eventually secured the Republican nomination in 1884, the very year that he signed the lease for the Mira Monte. The accompanying newspaper illustration from this period depicts Blaine enjoying a leisurely buckboard ride. Amid the convivial chitchat of his companions, Blaine appears resolute, as if in contemplation of the impending battle. The inset captioned “Blaine’s Cottage” shows Mira Monte as it appeared in Blaine’s time; the profile of the house with it’s distinctive stacked bay windows and turret-like dormer easily recognizable despite the passage of time. Ultimately, the object of Blaine’s greatest aspiration was not to be his; following a bitter and scandal plagued campaign, Blaine lost the election to Grover Cleveland by a mere one quarter of one percent of the popular vote.
The Governor’s office has released new, less-restrictive guidance for out-of-state visitors with regard to COVID-19 restrictions:
“As of May 1, 2021, Maine no longer requires proof of a negative test or quarantine for travelers to the state. If one or more states see a spike in cases of highly contagious COVID-19 variants, Maine will apply its test or quarantine requirement to travelers to and from that state. The Maine CDC will publicly announce any such states when they are identified.” This means that for now, we will no longer be requiring a written attestation upon check-in. We and all of the shops and restaurants here in Bar Harbor look forward the return of a semblance of normacy following a long hiatus and await your visit!
For our many blessings, we give thanks. Wishing you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving from Bruce, Cheryl and the Mira Monte staff.
Relax and enjoy a few days in our “Sweet Suites”, some with kitchenettes and fireplaces, for some holiday fun and getaways! Bar Harbor is a “winter wonderland” from November through March. Most people are unaware that the Mira Monte Suites are behind the main inn and open all through the winter at reduced rates! As a reminder, breakfast is not offered during winter months.
According to Maine’s website, leaf season won’t reach the island for a few more weeks. We have it on good authority (our own eyes) that fall has already arrived in spectacular fashion! We only have a few remaining openings available for October, so this is effectively “last call for fall.” We hope to see you soon.
The Mills Administration announced today that, effective immediately, travelers from Massachusetts are exempt from the requirement to get a negative COVID-19 test or quarantine for 14 days. This is great news for our guests from MA- there’s still time to book in time for leaf-peeping season!
Leaf Peeping Season is almost here! Summer is quickly drawing to a close in Acadia- there’s a new chill in the air and, though rare, a few of the trees around the park are already starting to show their fall colors. High season for viewing typically starts the second week in October, and we’re already starting to book up at the Mira Monte. If you’re driving to Acadia from Bangor, be sure not to ignore the sights along the highway as some of the best viewing can be found there. The state of Maine publishes a leaf report seasonally to keep visitors up to date on the best times to visit each part of the state. We expecct it to be up and running soon: https://www.maine.gov/dacf/mfs/projects/fall_foliage/report/index.shtml We look forward to seeing you in the fall!