The Poland Spring House

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Daniel Hennelly

Poland Spring House

During the latter part of the 19th century, the wealthy left cities like New York and Boston in the summer months to escape the heat and foul odors. Resorts soon dotted the seashore and mountains of New England.

Poland Spring House circa 1910.

In 1844, a Maine farmer, Hiram Ricker, found a spring that cured his dyspepsia on his property in Poland, Maine. Ricker began selling his water and attracted visitors who wanted the healing effects of the mineral water. The Ricker family already operated a small inn for travelers and in 1876, opened the Poland Spring House. Within a few years, the resort expanded to 350 rooms plus accommodations for the traveler’s servants like maids, nannies, and valets. It had a staff of three hundred employees to serve the guests.

The Poland Spring House attracted a well-heeled clientele and was one of the most popular summer resorts on the east coast. Guests could sit on the hotel’s wide verandas and enjoy the crisp air coming from the White Mountains to the west.

Amenities included a bowling alley and the first golf course in Maine. Originally a nine-hole course, it was later expanded to eighteen. A pond with a bathhouse and beach provided swimming for the hotel’s guests. The hotel also had a Bath and Treatment Department where guests could receive hydrotherapeutic treatments for a variety of ailments. Hydrotherapeutic treatments were popular in the 19th century, but Poland Spring never promoted itself as a spa with a miracle cure.

Poland Spring House circa 1930.

After World War II, travelers had more vacation options that started Poland Spring House into slow decline. Poland Spring was only open four months a year and no doubt that contributed to its financial distress.

Poland Spring House circa 1940s.

The Poland Spring House closed in the early 1960s. From 1966 to 1969, the federal government leased the hotel for a Women’s Job Corps Training Center. The shuttered hotel burned to the ground in a spectacular fire on July 3, 1975.

Clipped from The Bangor Daily News, Friday, July 4, 1975.
 

*   *   *

A resort still operates at Poland Spring and offers several types of lodging. Not unlike the 19th century, the resort offers its 21st century guests a place to chill and relax. Guests enjoy golf, tennis, swimming, hiking, and mountain biking. Poland Spring water is still bottled and sold today. The bottling company is not owned by the resort and bottling is done elsewhere in Maine.

The Bottling House. The building is no longer a bottling plant and is now used as a museum and event space.

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How tragic that it burned down. Fabulous architecture.

Although there was once a Ricker College in Maine, it was not named for Hiram Ricker.

So sad. What a beautiful place.

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