Portland real estate developer and philanthropist Art Girard, with his wife Fran Girard, made the winning bid for the Bar Harbor waterfront mansion known as East of Eden Saturday at auction. The total cost to Girard is $4.6 million including the buyer’s premium. Girard said he plans to sell the estate for exactly what he paid for it, with the understanding that the buyer will donate an additional $400,000 to an animal shelter and to the University of New England. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE KNOWLES COMPANY

East of Eden sold for $4.1M; new owner plans unusual resale terms

BAR HARBOR — The waterfront estate known as East of Eden sold at auction for $4.1 million Saturday, plus an additional $451,000 buyer’s premium, according to the buyer.

Portland real estate developer and philanthropist Art Girard and his wife Fran Girard made the winning bid at the auction held at the estate at 145 Eden Street.

Before the prior owners decided to sell the estate at auction, the property was listed with The Knowles Company realty for $12.5 million, down from $15.5 million. The 8.95-acre property and buildings are assessed by the town for tax purposes at $5.2 million.

According to Matthew Marin of Platinum Luxury Auctions, nine registered bidders participated in Saturday’s auction.

Art Girard said Monday that his plan is to sell the property for exactly what he paid, about $4.6 million including the buyer’s premium, and to require that the buyer also make a $400,000 donation to be divided between two specific nonprofits. That would bring the next buyer’s total price tag to $5 million, including the donations.

The nonprofits set to receive $200,000 each under Girard’s plan are the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland (ARLGP) in Westbrook and the University of New England (UNE) in Biddeford.

Portland real estate developer and philanthropist Art Girard, with his wife Fran Girard, made the winning bid for the East of Eden estate at Saturday’s auction. COURTESY OF ART GIRARD

“This is our way of giving to the charities, and everyone gets a good buy,” Girard said. “We wouldn’t make a dime, and the $400,000 would be going to charities,” allowing the buyer/donor to take a tax deduction.

“This cuts out all this paperwork. It’s kind of too simple to be complicated,” he said, adding, “I do odd stuff like this.”

In 2014, Girard donated $1 million to the ARLGP for a new adoption center, now called the Aurthur P. Girard Adoption Center.

In 2015, he donated Ram Island to UNE, to be used for marine biology research. The one-acre island located two miles off the coast of Saco was described by Barry Costa-Pierce, chairman of UNE marine sciences department, as “kind of a marine biology dream” and a “living laboratory” from which to study ocean life.

Another of Girard’s donations to UNE, in 2016, was “one of the largest philanthropic commitments in the University’s history,” according to a press release from the school, and it prompted UNE to name its new marine science facility after Girard.

East of Eden, a three-story, twenty-eight-room mansion, was designed by Boston architect Guy Lowell for Mr. and Mrs. Walter G. Ladd from New Jersey, who first named the property Eegonos, a backward spelling of their neighbor’s estate called Sonogee.

Sonogee, most recently used as a nursing home, was sold this year to Ocean Properties, Ltd., one of the two large hotel companies operating in Bar Harbor. The company has not announced plans for future uses of the property.

Built in 1910 and surviving the fire of 1947, East of Eden was used to house a French language immersion school for girls in the 1960s and early 1970s. The estate served as dormitory, dining hall, and classroom for the summer school, called L’Ecole Arcadie under the direction of property owner Richard Gott.

Prior to Girard, the most recent owners were the family of the late William B. Ruger Jr., CEO of the firearm company Sturm, Ruger & Co. Ruger had renovated the mansion extensively, and added the garage in 2008 to house his collection of antique cars.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story may have created a misimpression. The spokesman for Platinum Luxury Auctions provided the Islander with the number of registered bidders at the auction, but not any of their names.

Becky Pritchard
Former Islander reporter Becky Pritchard covered the town of Bar Harbor and was a park ranger in Acadia for six seasons.
Becky Pritchard

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