The Rich and Famous of Bar Harbor
Mount Desert Island, where Bar Harbor, Northeast Harbor and Southwest Harbor are located, had and still has the homes of some of the most notable people in America. Now, Mainers are pretty respectful of privacy (mostly) and the rich and famous who live among us reciprocate by treating us as equals (mostly). So I’m not going to break character by telling exactly where their homes are.
Everyone knows about how the Rockefeller family was responsible for twisting the arms of most of the big landowners on the island to donate land to create Acadia National Park, and how the carriage roads and stone bridges were also a Rockefeller gift. There are still family members about; some in cemeteries and some in blue jeans at the convenience store. Vice President Nelson Rockefeller was born in Bar Harbor. Henry Ford liked the area and built several “cottages” for family members. A neighbor here in Lamoine was caretaker for the home of the widow of Edsel Ford. J. P. Morgan’s descendants own one of the homes on the Shore Path in Bar Harbor. Cornelius Vanderbilt built cottages in various places on the island. His great great great granddaughter, Wendy Burden is about to release a tell-all book about growing up rich called Dead End Gene Pool, scheduled for release April 1, 2010. Will there be Bar Harbor stories in the book? Her family members are still in the area. Overstuffed president William Howard Taft liked to play golf here and the descendants of the Astors still live here. Fred Savage, whose parents owned the elegant Asticou Inn in Northeast Harbor and who donated land for Asticou Gardens is visible still by his influence on Bar Harbor architecture. [Commercial message–click here for the best place to stay when you visit Bar Harbor].
Now that we’ve covered the old money and fame what about the new? About four years ago I was asked directions by a woman driving a black SUV. She seemed like she expected me to know who she was and said something like, “Did I come in the right way?” I thought she looked familiar but I couldn’t help her much and she drove off. When I turned around the people I was with all had their eyeballs inflated and their hands over their mouths. Then it hit me: it was Martha Stewart! Martha, if you read this I’m sorry I didn’t recognize you, it will never happen again. Martha has a house in Seal Harbor. It is none other than the former home of Edsel Ford, Skylands. Caspar (Cap) Weinberger lived somewhere near Northeast Harbor until his death in 2006. He was the Secretary of Defense under Ronald Reagan. Novelist Stephen King lives in Bangor, his sister-in-law lives here in Lamoine. Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary lives in the Blue Hill area and Don McLean (American Pie) lives near Camden. Pianist and Jazz musician Paul Sullivan of the Paul Winter Consort lives in nearby Brooklyn. Zbigniew Brezinski, Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser, is reputed to live in Northeast Harbor. Kirstie Alley and friend John Travolta have places on the island of Ilesboro. Other wealthy area residents include the Pierreponts, the Drexels, the Biddles, and the Strawbridges. I’m sure there are LOTS of rich and famous Bar Harborites I don’t know about, there are just too many private jets landing in the summer for the folks mentioned above.
So what do the rich and famous know that we don’t? Maybe it’s that Bar Harbor and environs are THE place to be in the summer and fall. Want to rub shoulders with the elite? I don’t either but we can all hang out, complain about the servants and pretend we’re famous while we eat lobster and walk in the footsteps of the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts and Astors. And lodging at SeaCat’s Rest, with your own ocean frontage and luxury surroundings at affordable prices, will complete the fantasy.