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Mount Desert has been one of America's favorite tourist destinations for over 150 years. As early as the 1840s, the lush landscape of this island on the Maine coast attracted artists and writers, who soon made Mount Desert's beauty famous with their paintings and publications. The stream of tourists that began traveling to the island after the Civil War prompted a building boom of cottages, hotels, and various buildings in Bar Harbor and other towns in the vicinity.

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  • Maine Cottages!

    Fred L. Savageand the Architecture of Mount Desert

    John M. BryanPhotographs by Richard Cheek

    Princeton Architectural Press, New York

  • Published by

    Princeton Architectural Press

    37 East Seventh Street

    New York, New York 10003

    For a free catalog of books, call 1.800.722.6657.

    Visit our Web site at www.papress.com.

    2005 Princeton Architectural Press

    All rights reserved

    Printed and bound in China

    08 07 06 05 5 4 3 2 1 First edition

    No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission from the

    publisher, except in the context of reviews.

    Every reasonable attempt has been made to identify owners of copyright. Errors or omissions will be

    corrected in subsequent editions.

    All photographs Richard Cheek unless otherwise noted.

    Frontispiece and page 15: Sunset over Somes Sound, Mount Desert Island

    Pages 45: Harborside, Northeast Harbor

    Project coordination: Jan Cigliano

    Editing and layout: Nicola Bednarek

    Design: Jan Haux

    Special thanks to: Nettie Aljian, Janet Behning, Megan Carey, Penny (Yuen Pik) Chu, Russell Fernandez,

    Clare Jacobson, John King, Mark Lamster, Nancy Eklund Later, Linda Lee, Katharine Myers, Lauren

    Nelson, Jane Sheinman, Scott Tennent, Jennifer Thompson, Joseph Weston, and Deb Wood of Princeton

    Architectural Press Kevin C. Lippert, publisher

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data:

    Bryan, John Morrill.

    Maine cottages : Fred L. Savage and the architecture of Mount Desert / John M. Bryan ; photographs by

    Richard Cheek.

    p. cm.

    Includes bibliographical references and index.

    ISBN 1-56898-317-4 (alk. paper)

    1. Savage, Fred L., 18611924Criticism and interpretation. 2. CottagesMaineMount Desert Island.

    3. ArchitectureMaineMount Desert Island19th century. 4. ArchitectureMaineMount Desert

    Island20th century. I. Title: Fred L. Savage and the architecture of Mount Desert. II. Savage, Fred L.,

    18611924. III. Title.

    NA737.S325B79 2005

    728'.37'092dc22

    2004025905

    Dedicated to Charles Buttwho has restored Fred L. Savages shingle-style masterpiece Rosserne, and whose

    generous support made possible this study of the architects life and work.

  • Contents

    Foreword by Robert R. Pyle

    Acknowledgments

    Introduction

    Chapter I

    Foundations

    Savages Ancestors and Mount Desert

    Artists and Tourism on Mount Desert

    Recreation, Education, and Moral Development

    Rusticators Come to Northeast Harbor

    Savages Architectural Training

    The Earliest Drawings by Savage

    10

    12

    16

    18

    20

    26

    32

    36

    42

    46

  • Chapter II

    Northeast Harbor, Islesboro, and the

    Shingle Style (18871900)

    Savage and Stratton, Architects

    The Shingle Style

    Savages Early Work in Northeast Harbor

    Stylistic Diversity

    The Islesboro Cottages

    Chapter III

    Bar Harbor and the End of the

    Cottage Era (19001924)

    Savages Later Work in the Historical Revival Styles

    The Preservation Movement on Mount Desert

    Savages Public Buildings

    The City Beautiful Movement in Bar Harbor

    Fred L. Savage, Automobile Dealer

    60

    62

    70

    76

    128

    140

    152

    154

    216

    222

    232

    242

  • The Twilight of Savages Architectural Career

    Savages Estate

    A Postscript

    Notes

    Appendix

    A Preliminary List of Buildings and

    Projects by Savage

    In His Own Words: Selected Writings By

    and Attributed to Savage

    Selected Bibliography

    Index

    246

    260

    262

    268

    278

    283

    296

    298

  • Chapter I

    FoundationsSavages Ancestors and Mount Desert

    Artists and Tourism on Mount Desert

    Recreation, Education, and Moral Development

    Rusticators Come to Northeast Harbor

    Savages Architectural Training

    The Earliest Drawings by Savage

    20

    26

    32

    36

    42

    46

  • 20

    Savages Ancestors and Mount Desert

    Savages family roots on Mount Desert reached back to the eighteenth century. His

    paternal great-grandfather, John Savage (circa 17561815), had immigrated to the

    colonies from Glasgow, Scotland, in 1770 at the age of fourteen and worked as a

    fisherman sailing out of Marblehead, Massachusetts, prior to the Revolution. In 1775

    he enlisted as a private and fought against the British in the Battle of Bunker Hill

    (where he lost his right thumb). He also participated in the Battle of White Plains,

    wintered at Valley Forge, and crossed the Delaware with General Washington. He

    must have been viewed as an able and energetic man, since he was commissioned as

    commander of the schooner Resolution as the Revolution ended.After the war, John Savage returned to Marblehead and in December

    1786 married Sarah Dolibar, a descendant of the earliest European settlers of

    Marblehead.1 In 1789 John and Sarah Savage tried to better their lot by moving to

    Mount Desert, then a sparsely settled, eastern frontier. They stayed several years,

    but their first attempt to relocate failed, and they returned to Marblehead in 1792.

    Five years later their second attempt was more successful, and in 1797 or 1798 they

    established a homestead near Little Harbor Brook adjacent the eastern entry to

    Northeast Harbor. The site offered fresh water, a sloping, shingled beach where

    small boats could be hauled and launched, and a view of Bear Island to the south.

    Most importantly, it linked family interests to Northeast Harbor for generations

    to come.

    When John and Sarah Savage established their homesteada simple cabin

    and a clearing for vegetables and livestockthere were only a handful of neighbors

    nearby. Earlier settlers were living on the shores of Blue Hill Bay, Frenchmans Bay,

    and Somes Sound. The earliest known settlers of Mount Desert, Abraham Somes

    and James Richardson and their families, had occupied the head of Somes Sound

    since 1761, and Somesville remained the most village-like settlement well into the

    nineteenth century. In 1836 it consisted of one small store, one blacksmith shop, one

    shoemakers shop, one tanyard, two shipyards, one balk mill, one saw mill, one lath

    mill, one shingle mill, one grist mill and one schoolhouse and nine families.2 Early

    settlers typically chose sheltered coves for their settlements, preferably places with

    access to fresh water and hillsides and outlying islands to break the wind. Like

    Somesville to the northwest, the Savage homestead offered some of these advantages;

    on the east side of Mount Desert Island the same could be said of a cluster of homes

    built adjacent Hulls Cove by John Hamor, Simon Hadley, Levi Higgins, Timothy

    previous page: Magnum Donum, Bishop

    William C. Doane Cottage, unknown

    architect, Northeast Harbor, c. 1881

    above: The Old House, the Climena

    and John Savage house, Northeast

    Harbor, 1820

  • 21

    Map of Mount Desert, 1885. Courtesy of

    Raymond Strout.

  • Smallidge, and Elisha Cousins.3 The recreational use of the shorelinethe central

    pillar of Fred L. Savages careerlay a century in the future.

    Of John and Sarah Savages seven children only one son, John Savage

    (18011868, referred to hereafter as John Savage II) remained in Northeast Harbor. In

    1820 he bought a parcel of land near the head of Northeast Harbor at the present site

    of the Asticou Inn. Here he quickly built a house (1820) and married a seventeen-year-

    old neighbor, Climena Roberts. The Climena and John Savage house (now known as

    the Old House) has been modified by the addition of a porch and an ell, and it has

    been moved several times, but the corea story-and-a-half symmetrical Cape Cod

    dwelling with white clapboards and modest trimremains one of the oldest structures

    on Mount Desert. It is also the oldest existing building associated with the Savage

    family, since the first Savage cabin beside Harbor Brook seems to have been demol-

    ished or fallen into disuse in the nineteenth century. The vertically sawn sheathing

    and subflooring of the Old House were sawn in Somesville, whose mills were a sign of

    civilization signifying that frontier life in log cabins was a thing of the past.

    In the Old House Climena Savage bore ten children, among them Augustus

    Chase Savage (18321911), the father of the architect, Fred L. Savage. Captain A. C.

    Savage, as he was called by his peers, wrote a memoir at the age of seventy in which he

    presents a vivid picture of his youth, of growing up in the Old House, and the daily life

    on Mount Desert before the Civil War. He recalls his father (John Savage II) and his

    neighbor Will Roberts coasting and fishing in the summer and in winter they hauled

    out logs and cordwood to sell in western markets. They cut and hewed frames for their

    houses, rafted logs to Somesville for the boarding, sawed and shaved pine shingles for

    their houses and barns.4

    A. C. Savage learned the coastal trade from his father, and until the outbreak

    of the Civil War, he was at sea during the temperate months, typically May through

    October. On various schooners he carried wood to Boston, fished off the coast of

    Labrador and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, hauled freight to New York and

    Philadelphia, and in 1851, with the he