Peter Marie

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”.

Henry Cadwalader Chapman

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.

Mira Monte’s “Almost” President

Each year we continue to discover new details that add to the rich history of the Mira Monte.  New research by Bar Harbor Historian Brian Armstrong 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.

Monty Presents: “Talk Like a Mainah”

Monty the Beaver is our resident mascot, and he’s been after his new guests about the funny way they talk:  “Yah gotta talk like a real Mainah if yah wanna fit in” he says….  so he’s put together this little guide to help you get started:

Words
Ahwah = 60 minutes, amount of time it takes to find a parking spot in downtown Bar Harbor in the summer.
Ayuh or Yuuh = Yes, yup, yep, uh-huh, “eh?”.
Bah Habbah = Bar Harbor, best place in the world to visit, even better place to live.
Bangah = Bangor, second largest city in Maine, closest city to Bar Harbor that has a Sams Club.
Beans = sportswear and sporting goods company LL Bean, the only Maine company known outside of Maine.
Bettah = Better, should, oughtta, opposite of worsah.
Bug = Lobster, spiny shellfish that turns red when you boil it, tourist food.
Cah = Automobile, collection device for parking tickets in downtown Bar Harbor.
Californier = California, where Hollywood is.
Centah = Center, what’s inside the outside.
‘Chout = Watch Out, look out, don’t be stupid.
Chowdah = Chowder, a thick white soup with potatoes, may contain lobster or clams but mostly potatoes.
Crittah = Creature, particularly those that burrow in your yard, live under your house, or have babies in your attic.
Cunnin’ = Cute, particularly when referring to crittahs.
Deah = Deer, furry, antlered garden-eating animals that own the town, or the girlfriend that owns you.
Finest Kind = The best, how Mainers say “da kine”.
Maahden’s = Mardens, a Maine junk store where everyone shops but no one admits to going.
Mainah= Mainer, anyone from heah.
Nor’eastah = Nor’easter, large storm that blows in from the northeast and really, really pisses people off.
Pahk= Park, what you do with the cah, also place where little kids play.
Pahtlan‘ = Portland, largest city in Maine named after Portland England or Portland cement, one of the two- we’re not sure which.
Pissah = Something or someone that (who) is very unpleasant or nasty, the old lady at town hall who you need to see for everything.
Wicked = Great, very good, the opposite of wicked.
Yahd = Yard, place where your house sits.  Also 3 feet.

 

Phrases
Down Cellah = In the basement, dark scary place where junk is stored.
From away = stranger, newcomer, anyone who’s family hasn’t lived in Maine for at least 150 years.
Go Upta Camp = Visit a vacation/hunting/fishing cabin, camping, what Mainahs do on vacation.
It ain’t theyah no moah = reference to a long ago landmark that everyone (but you) knows about.
Snow Machinin’ = Snow mobiling, riding a motorcycle that has a track and skis instead of wheels.
Yah cahn’t get theyah from heah = You’re lost, budddy.  Really, really lost.
You people = your group, your kind, your ilk. Anyone from away- especially Californier.

 

Now You Try a Few:
“‘Chout when yah go down cellah, it’s dahk”
“I’m goin’ upta camp to go snow machinin'”
“It’s two ahwahs from Pahtlan’ to Bangah”
“Last night’s nor’eastah was a wicked pissah”
“The chowdah at Thurston’s is of the finest kind”
“The deah that ate my gahden was a cunin’ crittah”
“Yah cahn’t get theyah from heah. Take a right at Bob’s place (it ain’t theyah no moah), and go from theyah”.
“You people can pahk yah cah ’round back in the yahd”
“Come to Bah Habbah, ain’t nothin’ bettah- ayuh!”

 

So what do you think?  Did Monty get it right?  Are there a few other Mainerisms that you know of?

Acadia Postpones Park Reservation Plans

Acadia Park

By now, you may have heard that the National Park Service will implementing a “timed reservation system” for many of the popular attractions in Acadia National Park, including Cadillac Peak, Jordan Pond, Sand Beach and Eagle Lake.  Though originally envisioned to begin in summer of this year, the Park Service has announced that reservations will not be needed through the spring and summer seasons of 2020.  A trial system will be tested in the fall, with roll out throughout the park scheduled to begin in the 2021 season.  For the time being, you needn’t worry about reserving your place in line or paying additional reservation fees. Of course, we always encourage guests to use the island’s free shuttle service during the summer in order to minimize congestion on the roads.  Shuttles meet at the village green, within easy walking distance from the Mira Monte.

Garden Renovation to Begin

Lilac

The expansive, impeccably-landscaped grounds of the Mira Monte were once the crown jewel of the property.  Over the years, they have been featured on HGTV and in numerous travel publications from coast to coast.  Though the garden’s spring blooms remain beautiful, their beauty belies a pressing need for renovation.  The award-winning firm of Burdick and Associates has been selected to create a comprehensive “master plan” for the restoration and renovation of Mira Monte’s grounds.   Burdick specializes in landscapes that create a harmonious balance between human and natural elements that draw upon the native beauty of Maine.  While newly-planted areas will focus upon local flora, the 2 formal gardens of the estate will continue to retain their historic character.  It is our hope that the grounds will provide a place of beauty and respite for our guests for many years to come!

2 Rooms to Receive a Bold New Look for 2020

We are happy to announce that we have contracted Wallace Interiors of Trenton, a leading area design firm, to perform a makeover of 2 of our guest rooms at the Mira Monte.  In this pilot project, the North Suite and the Newport room will be re-imagined to feature a bright, refreshed “contemporary Victorian” look.  Under the plan, care will be taken to preserve the historic elements of each room, including the many fine Eastlake-style antique furniture pieces in each. We will post updates as work progresses!

Special Winter Rates!

Bar Harbor in the winter is a wondrous sight to behold!  The advent of snow season promises to turn our seaside town into a winter wonderland; perfect for snow play and cross-country skiing in Acadia National Park.  The Mira Monte currently has a limited number of rooms and suites available at very low off-season rates!  Book your stay now through March and use promotional code WINTER2020 to receive an additional 20% off!  Reservations at this special rate are only available through the Mira Monte website.  Click “Check Availability” at the upper right corner of this page, then click the “+” next to “Special Rates” to enter the promotional code. Please note that breakfast and daily housekeeping are not offered during the winter.  A number of restaurants and shops in town are open for your dining and buying pleasure.  Check weather conditions before booking.

Valid on Monday, January 13, 2020 through Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Restoration Update

The Mira Monte is full of charm, character and history but caring for this 150-year-old structure can be a daunting task.  To us, it’s a labor of love.  Time, sub-zero temperatures, snow and our fearsome nor’easters exact a very heavy toll on old wood.  We perform regular maintenance at the end of each season to address potential problem areas.  The winter season affords us some valuable time to devote to the ongoing renovation of the inn- even when the temperature outside is in single digits and snow blankets the ground.  Below, our staff removes a section of damaged sheathing and installs new insulation, wrap and clapboard.

Remembering Ash Cottage

This plaque, to be displayed near the entry, recognizes the Mira Monte inn as the former home of Orlando Ash, an early Bar Harbor entrepreneur and developer who built the Mira Monte and many of the surrounding historic homes. Ash’s holdings were once said to extend from Cadillac Mountain to the sea. Although there have been some competing claims regarding the precise age of the building, the inn is widely recognized as one of the oldest homes in town, as well as one of Bar Harbor’s first B&Bs.