2018 was an eventful year for the Bar Harbor VIA. In July ground was broken for our new park called DeGregiore Green on the corner of Eden Street and Harbor Lane. This was formally the site of the DeGregiore Hotel which burned to the ground in the Fire of ’47. When complete the park will have a fountain, a Fire of ’47 memorial, 20 stone benches, lights, irrigation and lots of trees, shrubs and plantings. We are hoping things will be completed before the 4thof July. All of the in ground work was done in 2018 and the surface elements will be installed in the spring of 2019. All told over $180,000 has been raised to date. Most of that money came from donations for honorary stone benches at $10,000.00 each, but we are grateful to every donor, no matter what the amount, because every dollar makes a difference.
The land for DeGregiore Green was made available because of the generosity of Joe Cough and Lance Mahaney and we can’t thank them enough. This park will greatly enhance the entrance to Bar Harbor and be a wonderful and safe resting spot for all and particularly visitors staying in the 1000 guest rooms along Eden Street and the College of the Atlantic Students who walk or bike by daily. Donations can be made out to DeGregiore Green Fund and sent to Jonathan Nicholson at The First, 102 Main Street, Bar Harbor, Me. 04609. If any funds are left over after completion they will be set aside for future maintenance.
Above is a photo taken in November showing the new park (the irrigation system is being installed) from the fountain site looking down Eden Street toward West Street.
This is not the first park built by the VIA in Bar Harbor either. That happened in 1901 when the VIA leased land from the Town and built the Village Green. DeGregiore Green will make a great “bookend” to West Street along with Agamont Park at the other end. Sometime in the near future it would be nice to see some green space set aside at the old ferry terminal property.
Museum In The Streets Update
20 more Museum in the Streets panels will be installed in the spring of 2019 to add to the 29 already in the Village Center. 10 of these panels will go out Eden Street as far as the Park Visitors Center, 7 will go down lower Maine Street onto Schooner Head Road and the final 3 will be along Cromwell Harbor Road finishing up at Kebo Valley Golf Course. Topics covered include many summer estates and residents, the auto wars, George B. Dorr, Waldron Bates The Jackson Laboratory and Acadia National Park. A ribbon cutting ceremony for both of the above projects will take place in DeGregiore Green sometime this summer.
Shore Path Updates
At some point in the near future, we hope to get back to work on the South end of the shore path off Wayman Lane and rebuild the seawall, remove the wooden bridge, increase the width of the path to 8 feet for better maintenance access and beautify the area in general. This will cost a minimum of 50,000. Work is also planned for upgrading the access path.
We would like to congratulate the Bar Harbor Historical Society on their upcoming purchase of the Maine Seacoast Mission Headquarters on West Street, also known as La Rochelle. This isn’t just a tremendous feather in the cap for the Historical Society but also for the surrounding communities who will have this stately manor preserved for their and future generations to walk through, admire and learn about this bygone era. Also of major significance are the gardens designed by our own past VIA board member and well known landscape architect Beatrix Farrand. We should all work together to help make sure this project and the Jesup Library expansion are both successful as these type of endeavors and what they offer set the course for Bar Harbor’s future.
Updates from previous years . . .
In the spring of 2018 the VIA determined the highest and best use of its 50,000.00 originally offered to the Town of Bar Harbor would in fact be to create a new park between Harbor Lane and West Street. We are in negotiations with the land owner to obtain a 99 year lease. This would really help dress up the entrance to our village. The lot has been vacant since the Fire of ’47. It could be called “DeGregoire Gardens” or “The Garden of Eden”. Granite benches in honor of Gladys O’Neil and Les Brewer will be included in this new park or Grant Park. We would greatly appreciate donations to help launch this project. Contributions can be made on our donation page.
The VIA offered to donate $50,000 to help make upgrades to the MDOT Route 3 multi-use path. It was originally thought the funds might be used as seed money for lighting and upgrading the path material (concrete in lieu of asphalt). It is now felt our funds would best be used improving these same elements between West Street and Harbor Lane, since this is as far as our money will stretch. This section is very important, aesthetically speaking, being the gateway to the village of Bar Harbor.
At our annual spring meeting a $5000 grant was approved for the Park Street Playground to help with their $195,000 renovation project. Grants we make, in accordance with our mission, must be used for general beautification, and in this case the funds were used for landscaping and fencing. Grant Park got a face lift and we helped by donating $30,000 to the project. It looks very nice.
It is with a heavy heart I report we lost one of our biggest supporters and lifetime VIA member David Witham who passed away in November. Our condolences to his family. We know his son David Jr. will carry on his good work.
A small portion of seawall washed out on the south end of the Shore Path in a spring storm. It was repaired but should be replaced by a new concrete seawall in the near future. It is one of the few remaining sections that is still stone and easily undermined. Replacing the seawall would also greatly help with access for maintenance and repairs. Now it’s almost impossible to service this end of the path. In the past, replacing a 100 foot section of seawall cost around $30,000.
From 2012 to 2016 the VIA spent $150,000 repairing and improving 1200 feet of the Shore Path. This work included resurfacing the gravel path and rebuilding seawalls. A new bench commemorating the donor of Glen Mary Park, Mary Shannon, was installed in the fall of 2014. Construction to widen a 1000 foot stretch of the Shore Path in front of the Bar Harbor Inn was completed in the fall of 2015 and resulted in a much wider and safer path. The VIA has pledged another $30,000 to improve the path in front of Grant Park which will be redone in coordination with the redevelopment of the Park possibly in the fall of 2017.
In 2017 more cutting back of growth and widening of the Shore Path was completed. For the first time in decades the entire length of the path is now a minimum of 6 feet wide which makes it much safer and more enjoyable to walk.
Jeff Dobbs and Bing Miller produced a 7 minute video depicting the history of the VIA since its inception in 1881. This will be a nice asset to have for our archives and general promotion.
In 2016 we updated our website, added a photo gallery and produced a 60 second ad promoting the VIA and celebrating 135 years of service to the community. This ad aired on the Acadia Chanel throughout the season. A heartfelt thank you goes out to Dobbs Productions for their generosity in producing this ad at no cost to us. Five 3 by 2 foot black and white framed posters were produced depicting the VIA’s 135 year history.
In June we replaced the 4 Shore Path signs, the Village Burial Grounds sign and added first time signage in Glen Mary Park and Woodbury Park. The new signs are weather resistant, 75% smaller than the old signs and require only a single post rather than two.
The VIA is responsible for the Town Clock next to the Village Green, and we recently had it restored, cleaned and repainted. We also maintain a fund to keep the two town fountains (on the Village Green and in Agamont Park) in working order. In 2013 we helped with the funding to refurbish the Veterans Memorial on the Village Green. We added a new 13′ by 2′ by 6″ pink granite cap in the fall of 2015 which was donated by Jeff Gammelin of Freshwater Stone and Brick Work.
It is with sadness we report our longest reigning board member, historian and keeper of the records, Phil Cunningham, passed away in November. His knowledge, directness and dedication will be greatly missed.