An early, hand-colored view of the Bar Harbor Building of the Arts. IMAGE COURTESY OF COLLECTION OF EARL BRECHLIN

Historical record: Building of the Arts

By Deborah Dyer, director, Bar Harbor Historical Society

From the March, 1917 Bar Harbor Times

Some years ago there came to the minds of a certain few of Bar Harbor’s summer colony, wealthy musical enthusiasts, to construct a place that should fitly serve as a summer musical center for the country, a place that should be worthy from every stand point for the best artists of the country to appear in.

A wealthy little group which included George B. Dorr of Boston, Mrs. Henry Dimock of New York and Washington, George Vanderbilt, Mrs. Robert Abbe, Henry Lane Eno, Dave Hennen Morris, and a dozen others, went ahead with the project, and at an expense of a good many thousand dollars a gem of a building was erected for this purpose.

That was nine years ago and the attractive structure during the past summer found almost every day in August occupied, and a musical program of artists giving concerts at short intervals such as appear in the biggest places in Boston, New York and Philadelphia. A season which included such artists as Fritz Kreisler, Alma Gluck, Ernest Schelling, Alwin Schroeder, Courtland Palmer and a dozen others of almost equal note is one that any small town or city may look back upon with pride.

A crowd assembles outside Bar Harbor’s Building of the Arts. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

It was back in 1906 and 1907 when the structure was completed and it was first opened for use with a dedicatory concert on July 13, 1907, by Mme. Emma Eames and Emilio de Gogorza. With each season it has been more generally used, till this summer marked the climax of its artistic success.

The building itself is without a duplicate at any summer resort in the country. In architecture it is a cross between the Prophylae and the Erichthaeum, technically speaking but the uninitiated will be content with the statement that it is a perfect replica an old Grecian temple. On three sides high pillars support the roof and afford a pleasing contrast to the simple lines of the building. It is finished in white stucco, and the effect at a short distance is extremely beautiful. The root is of red tiling made especially for the building. The ten columns are the largest ever turned in Maine. These are 24 feet in height and 3 feet in diameter.

The base of the building is of concrete and is on the plan of a Greek temple with steppe base very carefully carried out. There is a large loggia on the front of the building and on either side of this are two large panels nine feet long and four feet eight inches high, in which are placed plaster casts from the Parthenon frieze, especially imported from Paris.

The ornate interior of the Bar Harbor Building of the Arts. ISLANDER FILE PHOTO

The inside is equally as attractive as the outside. The interior of the auditorium is not large, only 70 feet by 33, with a total seating capacity of about 300, but it is a gem in every respect. The interior is a beautiful creamy white, lighted by large squares of plate glass on each side, seven feet square, and so perfect that every person inside can hardly help feeling that the foliage outside is ready to brush into the room. The walls and the ceiling of the concert stage are constructed of wood on the same principle as the sounding boards of the stages in German music halls.

The walls are treated in plaster paneling so as not to obstruct the sound. If they were of wood, there would be too much echo. The ceiling is composed of 45 large coffers, in every one of which is a large cluster of lights.

The building itself is situated in a most attractive site, on the sloping of a hill, adjoining the golfing property of the Kebo Valley Club, with a wonderful view of the hills beyond. It suddenly springs into view on rounding a curve in the road, and the most blasé traveler can hardly resist a start on seeing this Grecian temple set down in one of the most beautiful spots of prosaic twentieth century America. An out-door amphitheater gives chance for all sorts of out door plays and pageants.

Paderewski, Campanari, Ermes, Nordica, Alma Gluck, Vladimir de Pachman, and scores of other noted artists have appeared at the building since it was erected, and it has had as audience nearly every prominent man or woman who comes to Bar Harbor.

The building has more than borne out the hopes of its founders.

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