Lisa Horsch-Clark (standing) speaks on the founding and myths of Acadia National Park to (from left) Sarah Curts, Brianna Gurdon and Justin Harding. ISLANDER PHOTO BY VICTORIA DECOSTER

Pints for a Purpose on tap at Terramor

MOUNT DESERT ISLAND — On June 30 in the back of the Terramor Outdoor Resort lodge, set inside a lean-to timber frame, the evening sun beams through floor-to-ceiling windows as two curious visitors gather around a stone fireplace with beer glasses in hand. They have come to listen to this week’s featured presentation for Pints for a Purpose, a new partnership program between Friends of Acadia and Terramor. 

Every Thursday until Sept. 22, a new speaker will spotlight the history and principal organizations of Mount Desert Island at the glamping destination. A dollar from every beer bought during the event from 6-7 p.m. will go to Friends of Acadia, the nonprofit helping to preserve Acadia National Park. 

FOA Director of Development Lisa Horsch-Clark begins her talk about the founders of Acadia with a simple question.  

“Who started Acadia National Park?”  

John D. Rockefeller Jr. is the only name that comes to mind for both attendees. 

“That’s the name a lot of people recognize. But it was actually a man named Charles William Eliot,” Clark said.  

Among many misconceptions about the early days of the park, the true originator may be the most widespread inaccuracy. The idea for Acadia sparked with a family vacation. Eliot hailed from Boston and served as the longest-term president of Harvard College. After traveling with his family to sail and explore MDI, he fell in love with the area. 

He settled into an estate in Northeast Harbor and eventually started the Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations in 1901 to protect the chosen coastline for years to come. It was modeled after a similar preserve Charles Eliot’s son, also named Charles, started in Boston. Sadly, his son passed away at just 38 years old. 

“Then he really ramped up what he was doing – literally put everything into it in memory of his son,” Clark said. 

Eliot appointed George Dorr, another Bostonian whose family had been visiting the island since Dorr was 14, as the executive secretary of Hancock County Trustees. With lots of money and time on his hands, he was instrumental in working with landowners in Bar Harbor to privately donate properties without anything in return, including Cadillac Mountain, The Bubble Mountains and The Beehive. 

“The heart of the park is in philanthropy and giving,” Clark said. 

Dorr ultimately pushed for national park status, as he knew that was the only true way to protect the land. After meeting with Eliot to finalize the negotiations, Dorr set off for Washington, D.C., to present the plan to President Woodrow Wilson. In 1916, President Wilson established the land as Sieur de Monts National Monument. It wasn’t until 1929 that the park officially became Acadia National Park. 

“You have the idea and inspiration, you have, like feet on the ground really doing the hard work and labor to make it happen. That’s what really made it happen,” Clark said. 

Justin Harding, a math teacher at MDI High School said, “I’ve probably been on a hundred field trips over the years between K through 12, where every time we would come to Acadia, we’re never, ever told anything about Dorr. 

“Really, when you think of credit and what you’re taught in school, there is so much attention on Rockefeller and so little on Dorr. 

“I grew up here and I feel like I know nothing about this island. We both like to spend almost all of our free time hiking just about everything we possibly can. So, to come here and just get a little bit more of the actual history and knowledge, it can’t hurt.”  

For more information about upcoming talks, search for Pints for a Purpose event by Friends of Acadia and Terramor Outdoor Resort on Facebook. 

Victoria DeCoster

Victoria DeCoster

Victoria DeCoster covers the Bar Harbor area including town boards and committees. She recently moved to the island after graduating from Syracuse University last year. Contact Victoria with tips and story ideas at [email protected].
Victoria DeCoster

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