Poland Spring, Maine has been a fixture for over two hundred years now (215,actually), having been opened in 1797 by Jabez Ricker, after settling at that location in 1794. I came across an article in the June 1922 issue of the Bankers Magazine. I thought I would share with those interested in the history of the Poland Spring Inn. The advertisement shown here is from a 1922 issue of the national Magazine.
THE Poland Spring House is situated on the old homestead estate of Wentworth Ricker in the heart of one of the loveliest regions of Maine and New England. In 1794 Jabez Ricker with his four sons and six daughters arrived and settled in a small house on the land south of the present Mansion House. In 1795 the building comprising the northwest corner of the present Mansion House was commenced. This building was first occupied in 1796, and during the following year was finished as an inn; a signpost was erected at the northwest corner with a sign bearing the words: “WENTWORTH RICKER, 1797.” It is recorded that the morning following their arrival, and when there was no regular highway in these parts, two men who were passing through the country called for meals. Since that day, for a period touching three centuries, these doors have never been closed to the coming guest. It is also worthy of note that the “Wentworth Ricker Inn” was one of the first to offer “entertainment for man and beast” on the post highway from Portland to Montreal.
The original Mansion House was opened by Wentworth Ricker, the grandfather of the present proprietors, Hiram Ricker & Sons, as Jabez Ricker had previously settled all his sons on properties, practically all of which have since been taken into the present estate, originally containing about 300 acres; and now over 5000 acres in the entire Poland Spring property.
Nearly 120 years of hotel-keeping have evolved the Mansion House, the Poland Spring House, and developed the estate; and the Riccar Inn at Poland Spring, which was first opened in 1913, derives its name from George and Maturin Riccar, the founders of the Ricker family in America. Side by side with the growth of Poland Spring as a Famous summer and winter resort, has developed also the history of the Poland Spring itself, and Poland Water has become famous throughout the civilized world.
Poland Spring is about 800 feet above sea level, twenty six miles north of Portland, Maine, and about five miles via the Poland Spring Automobile Stage Line from Danville Junction station of the Maine Central Railroad. The facilities for reaching Poland Spring from new York, Boston and other centers are unexcelled. The Poland Spring property of 5000 acres is of diversified character, and a small army of workers is employed in its upkeep. The scientific drainage, the electric lighting system, the water supply and fire protection have attained the perfection possible only through unrestricted study and expense. The well planned system of water towers, hydrants and sprinklers, and the system of fire brick walls afford the utmost protection.
Of the many lakes and ponds about Poland Spring, the nearest of importance is the Range Lakes encircling the western foot of Ricker Hill, less than a mile from either hotel. These are well stocked with bass, togue and other game fish. Within a few miles are other noted waters: Lake Auburn, Thompson’s Pond, Sabbath day Lake, etc., and if a guest should desire to visit the Rangely’s, which are within easy distance, arrangements may be made to occupy the Poland Spring Camp on Mooselukmeguntic for short periods.
The long sand beach at Middle Range Lake is a constant delight to children. There is every opportunity for boating and swimming, and a modern bathing pavilion, with instructors and boatmen, will be found at Middle Lake.
The tennis facilities have kept pace with the increasing popularity of the game; the three clay courts are the best that can be built, and are maintained in first-class condition. Riding is a feature that has had much attention, and an excellent string of saddle horses, and a riding master from the staff of the Durland Academy of New York, are available during the season. The links —an eighteen-hole course—rank with the best in the country.
The Mansion House and Riccar Inn are open the entire year and offer every modern comfort and convenience to the guest with long-distance telephone and steam heat in every room. Particularly during the winter season which is at its height from the first of December until the last of March, the Mansion House is the most modern of the winter resorts in New England.
A notable feature of Poland Spring is the “Maine State Building”—the official building of the State of Maine at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, when Poland Water received the Grand Prize. At the close of the Exposition this building was purchased, and re-erected at Poland Spring. This building houses the annual exhibit of representative American artists, in addition to the growing permanent exhibition of the owners, and the library of over 6000 volumes of modern, classical and historical literature; the reading room is provided with the more important periodicals, under the charge of a competent librarian.
All Soul’s Chapel—erected through the cooperation during many years of proprietors and guests, by direct contributions, and the proceeds of an annual fair for the purpose—is adjacent to the Poland Spring House, and on Sundays is the scene of services of various religious denominations for all who desire to attend.
Times have certainly changed, and the Poland Spring resort, while still a grand destination is but a shadow of what it was in Maine’s bygone days. The Ricker’s began to market the world famous Poland Spring water in the late 1840s, originally bottling it in green bottles with green labels to emphasize the natural properties of the water. You can learn more about this destination and its history by visiting the Poland Spring Preservation Society’s webpage.