I’ve found LOTS of information and several interesting photos of areas I’ve already passed through. I’ll be adding them into the posts where they belong, but am also posting them here so you don’t miss seeing them.
Addendum for Coast Walk 13, Part 1: Photos of the old Seal Harbor Shore Path. Tim Garrity and I stumbled across a section of this walk with the iron pins still intact.
Addenda for Coast Walk 13, Part 5 :
I briefly mentioned that Cooksey Drive had been built by George Cooksey, but I’ve since found that he was instrumental in developing Seal Harbor both as a town and as a summer colony, so we should give him a little more attention.
Most of my information comes from Lydia Vandenbergh and Earle Shettleworth, Jr.’s book (full citation below.) Cooksey was a wealthy grain merchant from New York. It sounds like his wife’s family, the Dows, summered in Seal Harbor (although I’m not clear on their original connection to SH, the Dows women keep popping up in my research.) Cooksey bought Eastern Point and Ox Hill in 1891, planning to create a resort development. In 1891 he also built a house, ‘Glengariff,’ on the eastern side of the harbor, at the tip of what is now Ringing Point. [More about that house in Coast Walk 14.]
Vandenbergh and Shettleworth call it the first major Shingle-Style house in Seal Harbor. Between 1891-95, he built roads, most notably Sea Cliff Drive [now Cooksey Drive], installed sewer and water lines, formed a realty company to sell lots, and sold lots to several family and friends who built cottages. In poor health, he moved back to NY and died in 1922. Seal Harbor already had a reputation as a more intellectual summer resort than Bar Harbor, and Cooksey’s friends appear to have reinforced that. I came across this photo in V&S’s book:
Their caption reads, ” New York biochemists Edward Dunham (above) and Christian Herter … needed not only a room of special equipment but also space for animals such as geese, monkeys, and mice. Their laboratory adjacent to their cottages became central to their study of meningococcus. Family members were commandeered: children … fed the lab animals and chased them when they escaped… . After Herter’s death in 1910, ‘Miradero’ laboratory continued to be used by its scientific owners, including Henry B. Dakin, the inventor of the Dakin antiseptic solution, and later Dr. James B. Murphy, the eminent cancer researcher for New York’s Rockefeller Institute.” (p.80)
And didn’t that send me off on a series of tangents! I wondered if they were involved with founding either the Jackon Lab or the MDI Bio Lab. [Spoiler, no.] First I had to find out who Dunham and Herter were. There’s a bio of Dunham here. I couldn’t find anything online about Herter’s work, but V&S describe him as “a physician, medical professor, and scientific researcher, specializing in diseases of the nervous system. He was among the first to merge scientific investigation with medical science, and he advocated that medical schools and hospitals establish research laboratories.” So they were prominent physicians and research scientists, and each of them married a Dows, so they were Cooksey’s in-laws: Dunham married Mary Dows, Herter married Susan Dows. Out of curiosity, I looked up Henry Dakin, and according to the Social Register he married Susan Dows Herter after Herter died. Then I looked up James Murphy, and while I couldn’t find any connection to Cooksey or the Dows family, my web searches were dominated by the scandal occasioned when his son’s wife divorced him to marry Nelson Rockefeller. Phew! So none of that is directly relevant to the Coast Walk, other than establishing that there was good reason for Seal Harbor’s intellectual reputation, but it sure made for some interesting reading.
Also, Edward Dunham pops up again when we get to the Seal Harbor Green, so remember him.
Addenda for Coast Walk 14, Ringing Point Again:
OK, remember ‘Glengariff,’ George Cooksey’s house? It was bought by E.B. Dane in 1909, torn down, and rebuilt much larger.
Much larger! [More about the house and gardens on the Downeast Dilettante’s blog.] At 244′ long, it dominated the Seal Harbor skyline on the east:
The Danes had a similarly scaled yacht (a schooner, really), also 240′ long, called the Cone:
The Danes built Wildwood Farm (now the Wildwood Stables) to supply the house with produce and flowers:
Richard Billing’s, son of the local grocer, told some stories about Wildwood and Glengariff in the 1930s in his memoir, The Village and the Hill: “The E.B.Dane family owned the Wildwood farm and a two story mansion down at Dane’s Point. They may have owned the farm, but the Manson’s [sic] lived in it. They were a great addition to our community. The farmhouse was adequate for their family, which included four children; Charlie, Jennie, Nancy, and John. A greenhouse connected the house to the barn. The greenhouse was full of exotic plants… grown to supply ‘The House.’ The farm also boasted cows, horses, pigs, sheep, goats, and poultry. It was at the Wildwood Farm that I first saw watermelon growing, and squash with the children’s names written on them. Mr. Manson would scratch their names on the young squash, and the scar would result in raised writing when the squash matured. From my home, there was a path directly through the woods to the farm, about half a mile from us …. Often the Mansons would ski to school, or ride on a sleigh driven by their father. Theirs was the only working farm in Seal Harbor.
At the Dane’s big house down on the point, the Liljeholm’s daughter, Elsie, was our hostess. Her father was caretaker of the house, and they lived in the heated downstairs portion of the house in the winter. They would move to the rooms over the garage during the summer, when they would give up their quarters to the summer servants. The great sport at Liljeholms was to venture into the unheated part of the house to play hide and seek. Those of us who knew the house would go immediately to the main dining room, push the catch of a secret panel, and duck through to a hidden room, completely disappearing from view. Another feature of the house was a photographic darkroom in the basement that was built like a circular maze. There was no door, you just kept circling into the center, where there was a completely equipped darkroom … very dark and very spooky, and always very cold.”
According to the Downeast Dilettante, “The Dane estates weathered the great Depression, but by WWII, things were drawing to a close. The Vanda was requistioned for duty in the war. … John D. Rockefeller Jr., in whose view shed Glengariff stood, bought the house for a song in 1946 and had it demolished (His son David later built a house on the property). ”
But Richard Billings gives a different version of the house’s end:
“One day, in the middle of winter, the building caught fire. Those of us who went to help the volunteer firemen were sickened to see most of the house consumed by flame. What was left was ruined by water and smoke. It had to be torn down, and was never rebuilt.”
The only personal information I’ve found about the Danes was a note published in A Church for Seal Harbor. One gathers that Mr. Smyth had been fundraising for the proposed new church, and received this reply, which the church historians found either amusing enough or offensive enough to preserve in their archives:
Remind me never to put anything bitchy into writing, because sure as sure, that will be the one piece of correspondence all future historians latch onto.
Bechtle, Isabel K., A Church for Seal Harbor, Northeast Reprographics, Bangor, ME, 2002.
Billings, Richard W., The Village and the Hill: Growing up in Seal Harbor Maine in the 1930′s, Day Mountain Publishing, Augusta, ME, 1995.
Vandenbergh, Lydia and Shettleworth, Jr., Earle, Revisiting Seal Harbor and Acadia National Park, Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, SC, 1997.