This 1913 Stanley Mountain Wagon, part of the Seal Cove Auto Museum collection, is the scene of an original murder mystery to be presented April 7 at Coda. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE SEAL COVE AUTO MUSEUM

Murder mystery dinner based on real local history

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — “Murder on the Mountain Wagon,” an interactive murder mystery play, will be presented by the Seal Cove Auto Museum and The Tavern at Coda at the restaurant on Saturday, April 7, from 5-7 p.m.

The play, a Seal Cove Auto Museum original, features a cast of family members from one of Maine’s greatest innovative families, the Stanleys of Kingfield. Twin Stanley brothers Francis and Freelan were famous for their Stanley Steamers but also could claim numerous other achievements and were not the only talented Stanleys in the family. Actors from the Mount Desert Island community comprise the cast, along with Coda and museum staff. Coda will have menu items to match the theme.

The scene is 1918 in Southwest Harbor, and the Stanley family is in town for a family reunion. During the evening, Francis (Frank) Stanley is murdered, and the rest of the cast is sequestered in The Tavern while the mystery is solved. The audience must find clues within the play to solve the mystery and identify the murderer.

Local actors portray real historical characters, including architect and innovator Freelan Stanley; his and Frank’s sister Chansonetta, a talented photographer; her daughter Dorothy, an auto driver and painter; Frank’s son Raymond, a second-generation auto designer; trophy-winning auto driver Fred Marriott, who broke the land speed record in a steam car; Deputy Clark, local law enforcement; and Flora, accomplished business woman and Freelan’s wife.

The cast includes fictitious characters as well, such as comic relief Deputy Hansen; the unnamed, helpful tavern bartender; and Archibald Lewis, Stanley family biographer.

Doors open at 4 p.m. with seating at communal tables. Tickets cost $20, and food and drink will be available for purchase. Proceeds will benefit the Seal Cove Auto Museum. Tickets can be purchased at or by calling the museum at 244-9242.


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