Tag Archives: Cape Neddick

1832 catastrophe off Cape Neddick

The Rob Roy on her beam ends.

Captain Christopher Bassett sailed the 53-ton schooner, Rob Roy, out of Newburyport harbor, with a fair wind, on the morning of June 28, 1832. Nine passengers headed to Portland, Maine were his only cargo. He was sailing the vessel pretty light, as there were no dark clouds that morning to foretell the destined consequences of a “swept hold.”

Fifty-five year old Capt. Bassett was a seasoned master, having followed the sea since his ninth birthday. Had he been sailing to Cuba without a cargo, as he sometimes did during his otherwise estimable career, he would have gone to the trouble to load ballast for the vessel’s stability, but it was typical in the 1830s for the hold of New England coasting schooners to be left empty or “swept,” unless a storm seemed imminent.

At about 2 p.m. a white squall came out of nowhere. According to later coverage in the Boston Courier, “The ‘Rob Roy’ was under a fore-sail, double reefed main-sail and jib, with her fore-top gallant-sail handed.” She had Boon Island E SE 5 miles and Nubble Point N NW 4 miles when a sudden, violent gust of wind took hold of her sails and flipped her on her beam ends.

Five passengers were trapped inside the cabin as it filled with sea water in an instant.

Mr. Samuel Cutler, the 80-year-old former Town Clerk of Newburyport and his wife, Lydia, tragically succumbed at once, as did Mrs. Hall. She was the sister of Capt. Stallard of Portland, who had recently lost the brig Hariet — in nearby Wells bay. The two other passengers trapped in the cabin were the widow of Newburyport grocer Moses Bailey and her 5-year-old son.

Capt. Bassett struggled unsuccessfully to pull the Bailey child up the companionway, but sinking twice, he almost lost his own life in the process. The passengers who had been above deck when the squall struck were Moses Clough of Portland, and George Roaf, Joseph L. Huse, and George Rogers of Newburyport. They, and an exhausted Bassett, clung for their lives to the side of the capsized schooner. The mate and two of the crew were able to get the schooner’s boat afloat and attempted to go for help.

Meanwhile, Capt. Littlefield had just left Wells harbor for Boston with the sails set on his year-old, Wells-built schooner Miriam. She was about the same size as the Rob Roy, but with a full load she was far more stable and maneuverable. The wind was unusually high on shore from the northwest. Nevertheless, Littlefield and his crew managed to rescue Bassett and the four surviving passengers and put them ashore at Wells. The next day, the survivors of the sudden calamity made their way to their respective home towns.

The Rob Roy and Capt. Bassett’s trunk, which had been onboard, were thought at first to be lost. The trunk contained $102 in money (a significant sum in 1832) and some copper currency plates for a new bank in Portland.

Several days after the accident it was reported in the Newburyport Advertiser, “It is thought that the accident having happened so near the land, the schooner, which is a good vessel, will be saved.”

And in the Portsmouth Journal of Literature and Politics on July 7, “The schooner ‘Rob Roy’ has been towed to Portsmouth and the bodies of those that perished were found and interred in that place on Sunday.”

The people of Newburyport mourned the death of Mr. Samuel Cutler with formal ceremony and his life was honored in the Newburyport paper. “Mr. Cutler was for many years a merchant, President of an Insurance Company and a vestryman and warden of the Episcopal Church of Newburyport.” He and his wife were removed to Newburyport and buried in the Episcopal churchyard.

Capt. Christopher Bassett went right back to work as soon as repairs to the Rob Roy were completed. Within the month he was delivering a cargo of molasses to J.B. & T Hall of Boston on the schooner Rob Roy.

Death at sea was still a fairly common occurrence for seamen and their passengers in the 1830s and 1840s, but a large percentage of the casualties that occurred on New England coasting schooners were blamed on instability caused by a “swept hold.”

French Espionage in Colonial Wells

White-Flag Ploy Thwarted
White-Flag Ploy Thwarted

Less than 100 families lived in Wells when blacksmith, Louis Allain arrived from France around 1684. The colonists probably received him with some trepidation, given the alliance between his countrymen in Canada and the Indians that had plagued them off and on for a decade. Little did they know that Allain would one day use their acquaintance to spy on them for the Governor of l’Acadie.

 French Protestants or Huguenots fled religious persecution in France during the reign of King Louis XIV. Many of them settling in New England. Louis Allain’s indentured apprentice, Anthony Coombs, was a Huguenot. Louis, himself may also have represented himself as such to the people of Wells. He would later prove his loyalty was really to his own pocketbook.

At thirty years of age Allain was already a man of means. He purchased ½ of Samuel Storer’s Cape Neddick-built brigantine, Endeavor in August of 1685. A month later he purchased a mill on the western bank of the Little River, lots on both sides of the river and the home of William Frost.

Territorial tensions soon began to grow between the English and French colonists as well as between the Indian tribes allied to both monarchies. Allain could see the writing on the wall. He decided to move to Port Royal, Nova Scotia, leaving Anthony Coombs behind to protect his Wells properties.

In 1687, Louis obtained permission to build windmills along the Nova Scotia river that is now known as Allain’s River. He raised a family there and his fortunes grew. Within the first few years in Nova Scotia Louis had acquired a grain mill, a saw mill, a store and several coasting vessels that made regular trading voyages to the English city of Boston Massachusetts. He and his partner shipped lumber and flour from their mills in Port Royal and brought back Boston goods to sell to their Acadian customers. Andre Faneuil, the wealthy Boston Huguenot whose fortune financed the building of Faneuil Hall, traded regularly with the Acadians, even as Governor William Phipps burned Port Royal in 1690.

When the legality of their trading arrangement was questioned, Allain and other Acadian businessmen declared their allegiance to the English King. At the same time they were supplying the French Navy with mast timbers.

Back in Maine in 1703, French allied Indians attacked the villages along the York County coast. It was a horrible year for Wells. Thirty-nine of her inhabitants were either killed or made prisoner.

The following Spring Colonel Benjamin Church led an expedition through Penobscot, Passamaquoddy and the Bay of Fundy, collecting French prisoners and Indian scalps for bounty along the way. Under orders from Massachusetts Governor Dudley, he left Port Royal unscathed. Some people of Massachusetts, including Puritan minister Cotton Mather, suspected that Dudley was trying to preserve illegal trade between Boston and Nova Scotia.

Feeding prisoners of war became expensive for both the French and the English. An deal was struck to exchange prisoners in 1705. Allain and his business partner, who were fluent in English and familiar with Boston, were sent to seal the deal.

According to the September 10, 1705 issue of the Boston News-letter, When Allain arrived in Boston on the 20th of August under a flag of truce, he had in his possession the signed prisoner exchange agreement. When he returned to Port Royal at the end of September he was carrying a few French prisoners back as an English show of good faith.

A January 1706 report in the Boston News-letter indicates that Allain sailed again for Massachusetts a few months later.

“On Thursday last the 26th day of December there arrived at Nanguncket [Ogunquit] near to Wells in the Province of Maine, A Flag of Truce from Port-Royal with 34 English Prisoners.”

E.E. Bourne writes in his “History of Wells” that Lewis Allen came to Wells under the Flag of Truce and was authorized to trade prisoners. The people of Wells were immediately suspicious of the Frenchman’s motives and searched his pocketbook. In it, they found incriminating instructions for Allain to report, to the French Governor of Acadia, any efforts underway to fortify Wells against the Indians.

“If any enterprise was afoot, that he should join L.A., the two first letters of his name, close together. If it was only in agitation, place them at some distance; but if nothing was in motion, then to sign a cross.”

Allain was clasped in irons and sent to Boston to be dealt with. In a surprising twist that Bourne does not reveal, Governor Dudley released Allain. He made some excuse about owing Louis his life and sent him back to Port Royal to continue his lucrative lumber and flour trade.

Anthony Coombs, whose indenture had long since expired, deserted Allain’s Wells mill on the Little River. Louis hired his “trusty and well-beloved friend Lewis Bane of York,” to recover his title to the Wells properties. Bane eventually bought the properties from Allain in 1720 and Louis boldly appeared at the courthouse in Biddeford to acknowledge the instrument May 9, 1733. When he died in Port Royal several years later Louis Allain was one of the richest men in town.

Meteorological Freak Week 1926

Nature's Onslaught
Nature\’s Onslaught

Something was amiss with the cosmos during the third week of July 1926. The temperature hovered near 100 all up and down the eastern seaboard and as far west as Ohio. All but convicted murderers were released from the stifling prisons in North Carolina where temperatures reached 107. Hundreds slept out in the open on the Boston Common.

Just before sunrise on July 18th a blinding bluish light filled the cloudless Maine sky from Dexter to Saco. The flash was immediately followed by an explosive sound that awakened the whole City of Portland. Professor Charles Hutchins of the Physics Department at Bowdoin College confirmed to the press that a meteor had exploded over the crook in the Androscoggin River.

Hours earlier a 14 year old boy had witnessed the bursting of a large bright light in his grandfather’s Vermont cornfield. On the morning of July 18th he collected a handful of porous meteor fragments layered with quartz that he found lying on top of the plowed earth. Robert Dunklee, the boy’s father, telephoned authorities at the Harvard College Observatory and promised to send the rocks to Cambridge by express mail.

The scientists, who had just received a call from Professor Hutchins at Bowdoin, were puzzled. Meteors did not typically contain quartz. Furthermore, it was way too early in the season for these incidents to be part of the annual Perseid Meteor Shower. Seven unexpected fireballs had also been documented the previous November and December. One that exploded over Hornell, NY was reported to be the size of a freight car but no fragments of that celestial body were ever recovered.

At 3pm on the afternoon of July 18th the people of Portsmouth and Kittery observed a huge dusky cloud approaching from the northwest. Within five minutes the worst summer storm in their history was upon them. Vivid lightning struck. Torrential rain flooded the streets. Golf ball sized hail swirled into Portsmouth. Some of the hail was actually tiny stones coated in ice. The stones were smooth, polished white quartz like those one might find on a beach. The nearest beach with all white quartz stones was Rye Beach some 8 miles to the south. Hail that fell on Kittery was strange, too; 5 1/2 inch disks of ice indicating 3 separate freezes inside the cloud.

Terrific wind hurled the rocks and the hail in a circular motion breaking hundreds of windows. Thirty minutes later the storm had lifted leaving destruction in its wake. Farmer’s crops were flattened and some of their cows were dead. Storekeeper’s goods were ruined by the water that poured through broken windows. Banks of frozen rocks and golf ball hail had to be shoveled out of dining rooms. There was not enough glass in Portsmouth to repair 1/3 of the broken windows and it hadn’t even rained in Dover, NH.

Meanwhile, the railroad station at Brockton, MA had been destroyed by lightning. 500 seats at Fenway Park were lifted away from their bolts and deposited by a 100 mile an hour gust of wind into the center of the grandstand, twisted and broken. A 90 foot steeple was blown off the Asbury Methodist Church in Springfield, MA.

The damage was still not completely repaired on July 22, when a great brown cloud appeared high over Portsmouth. This time it came from the Southwest in dirty whirlwinds. Though it lasted but 10 minutes the second storm effected a larger area. A Dover, NH house lost its roof. At Gray Lodge in Kittery, Phyllis Gray was giving a bridge party on her front lawn. One of her guests didn’t have time to get up off the lawn pillow upon which she was lounging. She was rolled 100 feet across the grass. Wind swept through York Beach with a force that picked up men, women and children, swirled them in the air and then dropped them banged and bruised on the sand. Several York Beach cottages were blown from their foundations. The bell tower at The Nubble was blown off its base and moved 4 feet to the edge of a deep cliff. Two lifeboats at the Ogunquit lifesaving station were splintered. Three houses were destroyed at Wells Beach.

In Kennebunkport, author Booth Tarkington had put out in his three-ton motor boat, the Zantu seeking relief from the heat. He was accompanied by his secretary Betty Trotter and Captain Harry Thirkell. When they were near an island 6 miles from shore, a fire started on the boat. Tarkington and Thirkell sustained minor burns extinguishing the fire but that was the least of their problems. The ignition wires had burned through and the craft was disabled. Betty and Captain Thirkell began the long row to shore for assistance leaving Tarkington to guard the anchored Zantu. Just as the dingy was reaching shore, storm clouds darkened the sky. The Zantu was buffeted about until her anchor rope parted. Tarkington, headed out alone into the dark open sea, set paper fires in a bucket to make his vessel more visible. His last scrap of paper was burning when Captain John Peabody finally spotted him and towed him back to shore through convulsing waves.

Temperatures in southern Maine dropped from 104 F before the storm to 72 F immediately after. Freak Week on the east coast resulted in 160 deaths and over $1,000,000 in damages. The sudden storms were called cyclones in 1926 newspapers but in retrospect they were more likely tornados.

The Ark of Maine and the Misogynist of Cape Neddick

Oddity attracts
Oddity attracts

Self-proclaimed, World’s Champion Woman-Hater, Albion L. Clough, lived in a converted boat on Cape Neddick’s River Road from 1936 to 1944. A master of public relations, the long-haired artist made a living selling postcards, folk art and inflated misogyny. When asked if specific women had turned him against the entire sex, Albion always said, “I’ve had two of ’em; one soft as a squash, the other a holy terror.”

Albion Clough told anyone who would listen that he had walked away from a lucrative fishing camp business in Brighton, Maine, to escape his second wife, Eleanor’s caustic disposition. In 1936, Cape Neddick fishermen allowed him to drag a decrepit, 28 foot sailboat from the Cape Neddick River to a lot near the Atlantic Shoreline Railway tracks. He roofed it over for summer habitation and christened it the Ark of Maine. A stuffed snake was nailed over the front door to scare away the ladies. Brother Bill, a homemade dummy, sat in front of the ark with a sign around its neck that read, “Now forming woman-hater’s club.”

The dummy, Albion said, was there to entertain the multitude of females he expected would try to court him at his ark. His contention that “women prefer dummies” smacks of sour grapes in light of the fact that, contrary to Albion’s claims, Eleanor had actually left him some 20 years earlier. Census records indicate that by 1920, without the benefit of divorce, Albion’s wife had moved to Harmony, Maine, and was supporting herself and her youngest son on a nurse’s salary. Albion continued to eek out a marginal existence operating Clough’s Trout Farm on the road between Brighton and Wellington, Maine, until his retirement at age 70.

The transplanted retiree built a winter shack next door to his ark that bore the name Eleanor Lambert. One might surmise the shack was named after the long lost wife he claimed to despise. It became the headquarters of a woman-hater’s club that boasted over 100 members. Men came from far and wide to compete for the championship of woman-hating, but Cape Neddick’s titleholder never relinquished the crown.

Albion Clough, who looked much younger than his years, had a shock of snowy white hair that tumbled over broad shoulders. He played the organ, the banjo, the guitar and reportedly had a beautiful tenor voice. Though referred to as a hermit, he was exceedingly sociable. In 1937, popular radio personality Phillips Lord invited him to star on an episode of NBC’s “We the People” and the hermit jumped at the chance. York, Maine historian Peter A. Moore wrote about the radio program in his 1993 “Unknown History” column. “Appearing on the same show with him was Mollie Tickle Pitcher from Turnip Top Ridge,” wrote Moore. “Upon learning that he was a woman hater, she remarked ‘he ain’t never met me yet.'” Mollie wasn’t the only woman to take Albion’s professed misogyny as a challenge. Women, undeterred by the reptilian guard, cued up at the ark to try to change his mind. The woman-hater cheerfully indulged them.

In October of 1937, “The Story of Albion Clough in his Eyeless Ark,” appeared in the Chicago Herald & Examiner and a similar article was printed in the New York Times. Albion Clough became a bona fide celebrity. Universal newsreel photographer, Dick Sears came to Cape Neddick to make a movie about the woman-hater’s life and reportedly got “two good reels for Stanger than Fiction.” Albion told a reporter for the Portsmouth Herald that whether or not he made it big in the movies, his plan was to go on hating women. “In spite of his so-called hatred there was one concession that he did make,” wrote the correspondent. “And that is his friendliness for a neighbor who brings him a baked bean supper each Saturday night. His appreciation to her is gratefully expressed whenever he mentions her delicious beans.”

As Albion’s notoriety grew so did his marketable skills. In 1937, he claimed to know the future. His weather predictions were vague at best. The date he prophesied for his own demise was off by four four years and one month. At the end of August, 1944, the Portsmouth Herald reported, “The Hermit of Cape Neddick is dead. The white leonine mane of Albion Clough will be seen no more bending above his paintings or shaking in wrath as he gave his reasons for being a woman-hater. He leaves a wife and two sons.”

A mariner’s nightmare at Cape Neddick

Loss of the William Fales
Loss of the William Fales

Captain Thomas realized too late that the light he was sailing toward on the evening of Feb. 16, 1842, was not a lighthouse. His barque, the William Fales, was in the surf at Cape Neddick. The weather was as thick as the molasses she had carried back from Cuba and a raging tempest tossed her ever closer to the rocks.

As 1/3 owner of the Biddeford-built William Fales, Thomas had insisted on commanding her first commission, but he promised his wife that this was absolutely to be his last voyage at sea. Indeed, it was to be.

More than once during his long maritime career Captain William Thomas had cheated death. As a young man, he was the lone survivor of a wreck on a passage to the West Indies. The captain was finally rescued after bobbing about in the waves for 30 days on the remnants of his shattered vessel. His judgment and his courage had kept him alive.

But this time, wishing to make it home for breakfast with his children, he had ordered the crew to sail the final leg of their journey in spite of an ominous sky. In the fog, he mistook a light in George Freeman’s window for the Nubble Lighthouse and headed straight for the rocks. His error quickly became apparent but the force of the breakers made it impossible to correct the barque’s course.

A small anchor was let go and had no effect. A larger anchor took hold, but after a few moments, the chains parted and the William Fales struck the rocks tearing a large hole in her keel. Four sailors working aloft to take down what was left of the sails were hurled to their death by the violent impact. The William Fales was drawn back by the waves. Then she struck the rocks again with such a force that her masts splintered. Captain Thomas turned to the remaining members of his crew and asked that one of them volunteer to jump into the foaming breakers and take a rope ashore. No one stepped forward. Without hesitation, Captain Thomas wrapped a rope around his shoulder and leapt off the barque toward shore.

One of the five survivors of the wreck later told a reporter for the New York Herald what happened next. “The Captain had got a foothold upon a rock but the sea rose immediately behind him washed him off and in his retreat carried him under the vessel, probably under the keel as all their force exerted upon the rope availed nothing and he was seen no more.”

The wind took command of the barque and swung her stern to shore. William Foss of Biddeford, the 15-year-old nephew of Capt Thomas, had the presence of mind to jump into the surge as it was rolling in and rode the wave far up on to the beach. “In less than half an hour from the time she struck,” reported the Biddeford boy, “that new, staunch barque was broken up, and not a vestige of her to be seen!”

George Freeman, whose house was in view of the disaster, sent his wife for help and ran into the stormy night to offer assistance. Sixty bags of coffee and the body of Mr. John R. Plummer of Portland had already washed ashore. Of the 13 men and boys aboard, only five survived. Freeman later told a correspondent for the Dover Gazette, “Our townsmen did all they could to save them from death but human aid could not avail much when the sea was running mountains high, in a raging storm, in the darkness of that sad and dreary night.”

The William Fales was a total loss. She was worth at least $15,000, but part owners Williams & McLellen of Portland, only recovered $12,000 from insurance. The greatest loss was experienced by the widows and children whose loved ones would spend the rest of eternity at sea.

Sea serpents sighted off the coast

Sea Serpents off Maine Coast
Sea Serpents off Maine Coast


John Josselyn’s natural history accounts of his 17th century voyages to the new world have informed historians and scientists alike, but some of his observations give pause.

Josselyn would have us believe that sea serpents inhabited the coast and that New England natives had come to respect their powers. A Massachusetts diarist referred to similar knowledge in 1641, but added that the Indians sometimes exaggerated to the Englishmen in sport.

“It pleaseth them to make ye white man stare,” he wrote.

Sea serpents have been reported on our shores ever since. During the Revolutionary War, Capt. Little of the U.S. Navy spotted one in Penobscot Bay and a 100-foot specimen allegedly visited Portsmouth Harbor in 1796. According to hundreds of witnesses, the waters off Cape Ann were virtually teeming with sea serpents in 1817 and sightings in Maine were plentiful during the years that followed. On the rare occasion that one of these slithering devils was captured it always magically transformed itself before scientists could authenticate. Isaac Wildes of Cape Porpoise killed one in 1822, but by the time he got it to shore it had morphed into a 370-pound seal.

The editor of the Eastern Argus swore to the veracity of one Mr. Gooch of Kennebunk when the latter described an alarming encounter a few miles off Kennebunk’s shore on July 21, 1830. Wells and Portsmouth fishermen had already reported being pestered by a sea serpent that week but none of them had had the courage to get as close to the beast as did Mr. Gooch. The two other men in his fishing smack rushed below when the monster approached, but Mr. Gooch remained on deck and returned the serpent’s stare.

“He came within six feet of the boat,” reported the fisherman. “He raised his head about four feet from the water and looked directly into the boat. He was about 60 feet long,” continued Mr. Gooch. “His head was about the size of a 10 gallon keg, having long flaps, or ears, hanging down, and his eyes about the size of those of an ox, bright and projecting from his head”.

It must have been a distant cousin of Gooch’s monster that encircled the fishing boat of Clement Perkins and Thomas Cleaves of Kennebunkport at the mouth of the Kennebunk River in 1850. In a letter to the editor of the New Hampshire Sentinel, Perkins and Cleaves wrote, “The portion of his body out of the water we judge to be 80 feet, his form that of a large bamboo, the distance between the joints two feet, his motion undulating, velocity that of a common walk of man, his head resembling the bill of a duck.”

Nine years later Mr. Gooch’s neighbor, Capt. Boothby of Lower Village, reported seeing a sea serpent frolicking with a school of whales off Boon Island Ledge.

In the 1870s there was a sea serpent population explosion. Curiously, the species had mutated a preference for summer resorts. Hotels in Fortunes Rocks, Wells Beach and Saco sent out press releases all but promising that sea serpents were summering in plain view of their breezy, wraparound piazzas. In 1880, a correspondent from Kennebunkport’s Ocean Bluff Hotel reported that Mr. Hiram Gooch, Skipper of the tourist yacht, Clara Bell, had pointed out a sea serpent to his delighted passengers. They couldn’t quite see his head and his tail was underwater, but the commotion the creature made convinced them they had seen a genuine York County sea serpent. The Boston Daily Globe report tactfully suggested that any doubters should “come to this gem of seaside places to see and be convinced.”

By 1900 every seaside hotel in New England employed a sea serpent. They swam to and fro along the beaches, each one bigger and more rambunctious that the last. Newspaper readers finally became a little suspicious when one of the serpents apparently had adapted to a lakeside resort habitat. A letter to the editor of the New York Times referred to the resort sea serpent as Leviathan the Counterfeiter. The jig was up. Sightings declined. Magical creatures from the deep fell out of favor, at least fore a while.

The hope of seeing a genuine sea serpent attracted hundreds of tourists to York County’s coast again in 1967. Biddeford Pool lobstermen had hauled mysterious remains ashore that looked just as a sea serpent skeleton should look. The monster was embalmed and proudly displayed until a Biddeford High School science teacher remarked that it bore a striking resemblance to skeletons belonging to the shark family.


When fires ravaged southern Maine

Cliff House and Ocean Bluff burned the same night  Frank Handlen
Cliff House and Ocean Bluff burned the same night Frank Handlen

The Bald Head Cliff house burned twice. Both conflagrations occurred during years of rampant fires in southern Maine.

The year 1887 was one of catastrophic fire losses. On April 16, half of Kennebunkport’s business district was consumed.

The fire started in the riverfront skating rink owned by George F. Wilson of Lawrence, Mass. Once a popular attraction, the business had been closed for lack of patronage. A suspicious character was spotted running away shortly after the flames were discovered. The rink burned with alarming rapidity leading authorities to conclude that “combustibles” had been used. Within moments the fire was raging out of control. It destroyed 14 buildings, including the rink, The Spring Hotel and the fire house. Less than a month later the Great Plains of Kennebunk also burned under suspicious circumstances.

On June 22, 1887, the Biddeford Journal reported another devastating fire:

“Last night fire broke out in the large summer hotel known as Bald Head Cliff House and as no adequate means were at hand to check it, the entire structure, with most of its contents, was destroyed. The house was being put into readiness for the summer business, the day for its opening having been set for June 27. Two persons who slept there had a narrow escape from the flames.

“The Cliff House is located on Cape Neddick, in the town of York about two miles from Ogunquit village and was conducted by Mr. Theodore Weare. The house would accommodate one hundred guests. Total loss estimated at about $10,000. The insurance is said to be $7,000 on the house.”

A week later the village of Ogunquit suffered a fire of undetermined origin that was described as its biggest one to date.

The Weare family began rebuilding the Cliff House immediately. By October the frame was up, thanks to the able carpentry of Henry Perkins and it was predicted that the new building would be ready for plastering by Christmas.

When the hotel re-opened in 1888, Edward T. Weare had taken the management over from his father Theodore and his mother Elsie Jane. His advertisements in the Boston and New York papers boasted that the hotel had all new furnishings.

Another change occurred under Edward’s direction that elicited mixed reactions. The road to Bald Head Cliff was closed to the public and a fee was charged for viewing the natural wonder, to all but paying guests of the hotel. Today the grounds of many hotels are open only to their guests, but at the time this kind of exclusivity was unprecedented and it did not escape the notice of watering place reviewers sent by big city newspapers.

Nathan Haskell Dole, reporter for John Wanamaker’s Philadelphia publication, Book News, editorialized in 1892 that the Cliff House was being “run on queer parallel lines of democracy and exclusion. Casual visitors seeking it are required to pay a fee for admission to the grounds, and are by no means allowed to penetrate up to the second story, nor can they get anything to drink or even cigars. The regular guests — and some of them have been visitors for eighteen or twenty years — are kindly permitted to take care of their own rooms if they like, and there is an old-fashioned simplicity about the place which is exceedingly attractive.”

Though the beautiful hotel was known to many, Porter Sargent, author of A Handbook of New England, expressed bitterness about the fee that took on a punitive tone. He wrote, “Bald Head Cliff, with its treeless moor and rather ugly hotel, is reached by a private road, for the use of which a fee is demanded.” Edward Weare’s brother, Charles continued the fee policy when he became proprietor.

The Cliff House burned again on Jan. 30, 1898. On the same night, just a few miles away and a few hours earlier, the Ocean Bluff Hotel in Kennebunkport was burned to the ground in what was determined to be an incendiary fire. Later that year two Kennebunk Beach hotels, The Ridgewood and The Oaks, were destroyed by fire. The Ocean Bluff Hotel was never rebuilt though The Breakwater Court, later known as The Colony Hotel, was built at the same location 16 years later.

The Cliff House rose from the ashes yet again and to this day, loyal hotel guests are rewarded with the beauty and serenity of a private Bald Head Cliff.