We parked the car and headed down the fire road. I had no idea where we were going and had never visited this part of the island. I only knew that we were headed toward water.
We came to the Schooner Head Path, but continued on toward Compass Harbor. There is a lovely meandering trail down here through the woods that’s very flat, very easy. The day had just dawned and the forest was still quite dark.
I heard something, and thought I could make out the shape of an owl on a low branch. I quietly slipped on my long lens, and crept forward ever so slowly, stopping occasionally to shoot toward the shape.
It was a little Northern Spotted Owl - and although I took several photos, they were all quite blurry because of the low light. The little owl took off, then landed higher up in a nearby tree. I saw that it had settled next to another small owl. The image below was one I had posted earlier this week.
I thought that was the best of what was to come, but I was wrong.
: : :
Gnarly old roots threatened to trip me up, but I kept on . . .
Until I came to a little cove that I believe may be a part of Compass Point Harbor. It was beautiful!
A series of small paths ran down below the ruins of the house on the hill, and taking a path to my left, I came across what looks like the ruins of something but I was still looking for my husband and the dog.
I finally found them on a rocky outcropping overlooking the Porcupine Islands and Frenchman’s Bay. I later found out that this was Dorr Point.
Oh, this place is beautiful, isn’t it?
George seemed happy that I caught up to them.
We stayed down here for awhile, just enjoying the beautiful morning.
And then we made our way back up the hill.
Up the stone steps that would lead us to the ruin.
There are so many of them – massive slabs of granite.
By the time we got to the ruin, it was much lighter in the woods and we could see that it was not just a house, but a mansion. A once-grand estate that I thought was maybe destroyed in the Great Fire of 1947 but it was just so odd how there was no house, just the flooring. And it seems to have been preserved somewhat.
I thought about the ruins off and on during the rest of my trip, and it wasn’t until I came home that I found out that this is what is left of George B. Door’s family home – Oldfarm, a once great house that was built in 1876.
George B. Door is considered the father of Acadia National Park. He spent his life obtaining land (through donations), offering the areas to the federal government for use as a national park to preserve the beauty of the island. It was mainly through the efforts of George Dorr that the park exists today. John D. Rockefeller gifted much of the park’s land but it was Dorr who dealt with the government, using his many connections.
The remnants of this Queen Anne / Colonial Revival mansion are paved with brick in a herringbone pattern and are enclosed by brick and stone coping.
Oldfarm was built in 1876 for George Dorr’s parents as a summer ‘cottage’ by the architect Henry Richards and was updated in 1919 by architect Fred Savage. George lived here until his death in 1944 and donated the house and the acreage to his beloved park. The house survived the 1947 fire but was demolished in 1951 by the park service.
Oldfarm as it appeared in approximately 1909.
The steps, as seen today, that led to the east piazza.
George B. Dorr
He swam in Frenchman Bay almost daily, even having to break ice along the edges to do so. He had a heart attack in 1934 while enjoying his morning swim and was told he had six months to live (he lived ten more years). Eventually he lost his sight. All these things hardly slowed him down. While intensely protective of the land, his own health and personal welfare were never a concern to him.
George Bucknam Dorr fell at Old Farm on August 5, 1944, and the heart that was supposed to have given out ten years ago finally stopped. There is a simple plaque at Sieur de Monts honoring his memory and dedication.
The preservation of these lands meant everything to Dorr. ~Courtesy NPS
The square-shaped ruin on the shoreline that I mentioned above may have been the remains of the saltwater pool that Dorr had built into the harbor. The steps lead right down to it. The woods have nearly overtaken the old place but thanks to friends of the park who were granted permission, the ruins were cleaned up last December making it safer for interested parties wanting to visit the former home of George Dorr. The park service also has tours that lead to the ruin.
So wonderful to have stumbled upon this place. And now that I know what it was, I can’t wait to go back and look around some more ~