Suggested Reading

A few of the many books worth taking up before coming to Hulls Cove / Bar Harbor / Mount Desert Island / Acadia National Park might include:

  1. Douglas Brinkley’s book, The Wilderness Warrior, as to Teddy Roosevelt (who vacationed at Hulls Cove as a young man) and the founding of the National Park System
  2. Samuel Eliot Morison. (Samuel Eliot Morison would have not one but two names spelled unconventionally)

    Reading history can be as much drudgery as mowing a steep lawn. Reading Morison’s histories is like smelling green grass after a summer rain.

    He is arguably the greatest of the American historians.

    1. Among his first books was the 13-volume, encyclopedic, and legendary History of the United States Navy in World War II. With the special permission granted by FDR, his acquaintance from Harvard, Morison wrote the books on board ships actually engaged for years in combat in the Pacific, whereat he narrowly escaped being killed in a Kamikaze explosion.

      Before WWI and following WWII, US naval ships often made Bar Harbor a port of call. Naval and Marine officers were greatly welcomed to the best of summer parties, and sailors seemed to be respectful and appreciative when given shore leave.

      1. The Great White Fleet before the Spanish American War at Bar Harbor.

        The USS Missouri, at Bar Harborm a year to the day following the surrender of the Empire of Japan on the deck of this ship.

    2. Morison’s weighty histories of the United States might still be the standard text books for the best prep schools and ivy league colleges in America. The Oxford American History, and the 2-volume American Republic with Steel and Commager.

      (No schoolboy was allowed to graduate from Phillips Academy without having mastered Morison’s American history textbook. It was the relentlessly honed centerpiece of the senior year curriculum. Every student was expected to go at the task as if he might someday sit to compose, or stand to deliver, or rise to refute, a State of the Union Address – and more then a few did one or the other).

    3. Samuel de Champlain, the Founder of New France. (Eastern Maine, including Mt. Desert Island, was contained within New France).

      This book is a revealing look into a few of the reasons why the French in North America did not embrace slavery as the British did wholeheartedly – Champlain had observed slavery as practiced by the Portuguese and Spanish and was repulsed by the trade and the practice.

      The book also explains why, perhaps beginning with a meeting with Indians warriors on the shore of the Penobscot River at what is now Bangor – the first such encounter of that kind and more than 100 years before the active settlement of the area – the French were able to enlist the support of Indians tribes in the development and protection of the vast New France based in Quebec. In contrast, the British colonies took shelter for a century on only a thin edge of the New England coastline; the British and their American subjects were never fully able to occupy safely from the French and their Indian allies what is now Maine; until British regulars and Colonial Rangers brutally seized fortress Quebec in 1759, along with all the other French bastions reaching from Louisburg in Nova Scotia to Ticonderoga in New York.

    4. The Maritime History of Massachusetts (Maine was a part of Massachusetts until 1820).

      The subjects include: privateering (piracy) against French and then British shipping; and the construction of ships on the Maine coast.

      Maine produced 60% of the wooden ships under US flags, and sent to sea 40% of the sea captains. (A ship-building yard operated at Hulls Cove in Bar Harbor in the earliest years of that community).

      Meaning, Maine ships were the principle agent in the transportation of cotton from the South to the roaring New England British textile mills; the transportation of sugar/molasses/rum from the West Indies to New England; including Bangor and Portland notwithstanding a Prohibition that lasted almost 100 years in Maine; and slaves from Africa and gold from Spanish ports. Maine, principally the Bath Iron Works; was a primary manufacturer of steel ships for the US Navy, for the Spanish American War, WWI, and WWII, the BIW launched a warship every few days during WWII.

    5. History of Mount Desert Island

      Relevant, of course.
    6. A Boy’s Boston. Although the subject is Morison’s life as a boy living on Beacon Hill in Boston, the book speaks to privileged summer life on Mount Desert Island during the waning years of Bar Harbor’s heyday.

      Samuel Eliot Morrison lived on this Mount Desert Island when not teaching at Harvard.

      There is nothing on Mt. Desert Island which honors Morison, even though his commanding statue occupies the third block of Commonwealth Avenue in Back Bay in Boston. And Harvard remembers him.

      1. Samuel Eliot Morrison lived on this Mount Desert Island when not teaching at Harvard.

        There is nothing on Mt. Desert Island which honors Morison, even though his commanding statue occupies the third block of Commonwealth Avenue in Back Bay in Boston. And Harvard remembers him.

        Samuel Eliot Morison

  3. 12,000 years and American Indians in Maine by Bruce Bourke, including reference to prehistoric Indians at Hulls Cove.
    1. Indians summered in Bar Harbor until the early 1900s, usually on the shores of the most desirable residential neighborhoods. Controversies followed, as one would suppose.

  4. Librarian Gladys O’Neill’s core-curriculum Lost Bar Harbor. This book includes photos of historic mansions built during the Gilded Age. These are homes constructed at Hulls Cove:
      1. “Honfleur”
        Parsons and Clews

        Henry Clews

        Clews helped precipitate the Panic of 1873 and a 4-year depression that followed. He was financially none the worse for the damage done, thus setting the standard for impunity among investment bankers
        for later national financial disasters, through 2008.

        Elsie Clews Parsons

        Henry’s daughter and the owner of Honfleur. Her husband was a fervent supporter of Teddy Roosevelt’s trust- busting activities, ironically.

        Elsie, like several other several other women who lived here on the Hulls Cove peninsula, was a brilliant and famed activist for womens’ rights and were decades ahead of their times.

      2. Honfleur was later owned by Sumner Welles, the legendary diplomatic advisor to Franklin D Roosevelt, as to Cuba and pre-war Europe among other matters.

        Welles was eccentric, controversial, sleek, and affluent – he arrived every day at the State Department in his personal chauffeured Rolls Royce Silver Cloud.

        But he was above all brilliant, as further proved by his decision to live at Hulls Cove.

        Sumner Welles

  5. Baymeath

    Louise Bowen of Chicago owned Baymeath.

    Mrs. Bowen was an heiress to the operator of a delivery wagon (he delivered payroll and traveled well armed) who became real estate speculator as to desolate meadows that later became downtown Chicago.

    This book speaks to domestic life among the summer residents at Hulls Cove, and in Bar Harbor generally, during the Gilded Age – an era of mind boggling disparities of wealth among American citizens.

    Coincidentally perhaps, she was yet another woman of extreme affluence living at Hulls Cove who promoted womens’ causes (including the right to vote), plus the financial and legal protection of the poor, and the assimilation of immigrants.

    Jane Addams largely led those Progressive Era efforts. Jane Addams, a neighbor to Mrs. Bowen at Hulls Cove, owned Yulecrag located at the summit of the Hulls Cove peninsula.
    Addams, also from Chicago, was a gadfly to Woodrow Wilson as to America’s entry into WWI. She was additionally the first overt lesbian of national standing. And, Addams was the first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

    The remnant of the Baymeath property is presently owned by the director of the Jackson Laboratory on Mt Desert Island. Jackson Lab is a world leader in cancer research. Jackson Lab has more than 2,000 employees, many of whom are distinguished doctors, as is the director. That director is also a woman.

      1. Jane Addams on her way to or from jail

        Thorncrag, also Yulecrag

  6. Empires Collide as to the French and Indian Wars.
  7. The venerable The Last Resorts, commentaries on Bar Harbor glitterati by the peerless high-society observer Cleveland Amory.
  8. Sargent F. Collier’s post-WWII, period-piece Green Grows Bar Harbor, probably partially written on the green lawn above the tennis courts at the Bar Harbor Club, even as the Club itself was browning. (The club house – construction began days before the Crash in September 1929 but survived without a scratch thanks to its financially invulnerable members – is now owned by a hotelier and used for weddings and other public events; the developer preserved the building with genuine care).

    (As the book was being written, now a half century ago, my tall and slender older sister was to have posed at Kebo Golf Course for a photo meant for this book. But the plan was cancelled at the insistence of her mother who knew best about what was done and not done then.)

  9. History of Acadia National Park by founder of the park, George Dorr, with more than a little help from John D Rockefeller, Jr, who was then maneuvering a national scandal involving the murder of strikers.
      1. John D Rockefeller Jr.’s summer home on Mount Desert Island

        John D Rockefeller Jr. dresses for an inspection of his “carriage roads” in Acadia National Park.

  10. The Last Mrs. Astor by Frances Kiernan which recounts the life of recently-deceased Brooke Astor, including her marriage (one of plural marriages) in Bar Harbor, near Hulls Cove.
      1. Carolyn Astor

        Brooke Astor and David Rockefeller both of Mount Desert Island.

  11. Titan, by Ron Chernow. A fabled author writes about the Rockefellers who largely created Acadia National Park and then financially sustained it.
  12. Wealth in Families by my classmate, Charles Collier. Chip Collier was a graduate of Cornell who became a Harvard Divinity School graduate. Then a fundraiser at Dartmouth.

    For the balance of his long career at Harvard he was a master at separating the wealthiest of Harvard graduates from their lifetime savings, and making them feel good about so emptying their pockets.

    His advice would have served well some of the historic families that were to be mentioned here, and other famous families still living.

  13. Fortune’s Children by Arthur Vanderbilt as to the Vanderbilts in Bar Harbor and Newport and elsewhere.
      1. Sonogee

        Frederick Vandebilt

  14. The Gilded Cage, by Richard Hutto. The private club on Jekyll Island where 90% of the country’s wealth would come to dinner under one roof. Most were summer visitors to Bar Harbor.
  15. Walter Cronkite’s lush North by Northeast as to sailing and appreciating the Maine Coast.
  16. The 4-volume History of the United States by Meinig. A serious undertaking at more than 2,000 pages, but worth it. Not to be read in bed lest the reader fall asleep with book in hand and the 5- pounder lands as a nose-breaker.
  17. The Mayflower as to raids on the Maine Coast, and the beginnings of the trans-New England and Eastern Canada Rangers under Benjamin Church of RI, master Indian-fighter and remorseless natural born killer, now deplored. A Harvard textbook.
  18. Any of several colonial histories of Maine from rare book collections, antiquarian dealers.
  19. Historical Journal of the Campaigns of North America 1757 - 1760
  20. Acadian Diaspora by Hodson
  21. Maine in the Making of the Nation by Elizabeth Ring
  22. New England Bound by Wendy Warren. Indian and African slavery in New England, including Maine.
  23. Historical Atlas of Maine by Stephen Hornsby and Richard Judd (the former head of the History Department at the University of Maine and a consummate master of all of Maine history, in the tradition of the University’s David Smith as to Northern Maine and Bangor’s glittering boom years). Expensive and requiring the largest of coffee tables, but superlative.

Where to look for books

Sherman’s Bookstore

Sherman’s Bookstore in Bar Harbor (and in Northeast Harbor) is a delightful and great-fun bookstore. It has remained largely unchanged for most of a century, perfect.

Sherman’s Bookstore

The Jesup Memorial Library

The Jesup Memorial Library offers gorgeous turn-of-the-century architecture, a fabulous book collection, the actual quiet of old-time libraries, great art, the best of summertime sidewalk used book sales, and superlative librarians.

Pray for one rainy day during your stay, so that you might go there even if only by default.

(Library card #1 issued long ago to the owner of the property at Hulls Cove is gratefully framed there).

Amazon and Abe’s Books

Amazon and Abe’s Books offer online every book. But what fun is that in comparison to the alternatives mentioned above.