Posts Tagged With: Poland Spring

The Poland Spring Inn

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.

Categories: historic buildings, historic preservation, historical societies, history, Maine, Maine things to do, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rusticating in Bygone Maine

Maine has a long history as being a place to get away to, and in some cases, we have surpassed the success of many better known vacation spots. During the latter 1800’s into the early 1900’s rusticating in Maine was in vogue. People came from all over the world to relax in our rustic environment, and as a result, several world class tourist spots were developed.

One of them, the Poland Spring Inn, as shown in this postcard of mine boasted of its miraculous spring water. The water was so popular it was bottled for distribution in the old familiar green bottles with the green labeling.

Most of the older mega hotels, if you want to call them that have disappeared, but you can still find remnants of many by way of old advertising, postcards and various publications describing their offerings. Things have changed over the course of the years, so we now see a differing sort of entertainment to keep visitors happy.

It used to be common to find people boating, or taking hikes through the woods or along a shoreline, enjoying the sights to be found in the world of nature. Those same sights are still there, however, and can be found again by those of an adventurous nature.

Another world famous resort was the Kineo House, which could be found on Moosehead Lake in the Greenville area. This ca. 1850 picture to the right shows the hotel before its latter additions. The Kineo House was a grand destination for those sportsmen who wanted to get back into the big woods for fishing and hunting, and there are many stories of the successful hunts that could be had with the right guide. Fishermen were able to catch overflowing strings of various species that could be found not only in Moosehead Lake itself, but from the many streams and brooks running into the lake.

Along the coastline, dozens of old hotels lined the beaches, and southern Maine offered miles of sandy beaches for the travelers enjoyment. At one time, Old Orchard Beach recorded more visitors than the famed beaches of Atlantic City in New Jersey, and surpassed by far the then newly marketed California shoreline.

Bar Harbor has become a locale enticing the rich and famous from around the world, and many of the one time visitors have become seasonal residents here in Maine, all due to our climate and abundant resources. In those days, coming to Maine for a vacation was referred to as ‘rusticating’. It was a combination of roughing it in the woods while living elegantly, so to speak.

It amazes me today to read of the accoutrements carried into the woods by folks in those days, setting up a rough camp with all the comforts of home. It makes me wonder at times where all the people came from to tote all of the equipment into the woods. Hotels were generally advertised as having all of the amenities one could wish for on their vacation, some even boasting of hot baths.

Classy restaurants could be found in most of the better hotels, with some of them gaining quite a reputation for their culinary flare and style. No matter how you slice the pie, Maine was the place to go when you wanted to get away. In spite of the changing times, you can still get away in Maine today, whether you want to get out into the deep woods, or relax by the seaside in a comfortable resort. And while you’re visiting, there are many museums and historical societies you see to enhance your vacation if you are indeed a history buff.

We are coming into a new year, and with every new year comes a new set of hoops to jump through. It is no different for these organizations, and every one of them, from the Maine State Historical Society down to the smallest village historical society you can find, needs your help to survive. Please visit them, and see if you can help them out by either a donation of cash, or maybe even volunteering some time in this new year. You might be surprised at what you can learn about our past!

Categories: historical societies, Maine, Salt andPines project, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: