MDI Preservation is dedication to Historic Preservation on Mount Desert Island, the largest island off the coast of Maine. Preservation of the properties and sites that make up the cultural backbone of the Island is important for future generation to understand their communities heritage, as well as the people and events that shaped it. It is important to create a backdrop for economic stability through heritage tourism, stabilized property values, and unique business growth opportunities. By using Historic Preservation to help create a fundamental sense of place, the people of Mount Desert Island can do what generations before them have done – used the resources at their disposal to create a better way of life for their families while respecting and appreciating the natural beauty surrounding them.
The land had been used by the Wabanaki Tribe for many generations as their seasonal camp where they would fish, hunt, gathering food and supplies, as well as grow and enjoy the summer. The island was their playground. As with all beautiful natural spots, when word gets out . . . the island was explored by the French and the British and in 1761, Abraham Somes and James Richardson were the first settlers from Massachusetts to come to MDI. They came to fish, lumber, and farm, bringing their extended family and friends to settle as well. The year round population of the island grow, and eventually the natural beauty was record by Frederic E. Church who was part of the Hudson River School movement. His magnificent paintings introduced the American wealthy to the spender of Mount Desert Island. Charles Eliot and his crew from Harvard, called the Champlain Society, were inspired to come, explore, and learn about everything MDI had to offer. Their scientific studies would later lead to a new generation of naturalist, geologist, oceanographers, and biologist studying the wonders of Mount Desert. The Champlain Society and all the “rusticators” who came to visit during that time fell in love and many decided to build summer cottages to return year after year, much like the Wabanaki did. The hotels and summer “cottages” built during the late 1880 and early 20th century created an explosion of expansion for the building on the island. Villages were popping up and the towns were growing. Industries such as logging, quarries, and cod were part of every community. Boarding houses, warehouses, mills, hotels, inns, store, boat yards, small farms, family houses, and summer “cottages” were being built all over the Island, shaping and changing its cultural identity forever. This would become the most talked about period on Mount Desert Island. However, once this boom period was over and the Great Fire of 1947 happened, the Island population began to decline and building slowed. While the heritage of the Island continued to evolve, the building landscape changed little since the late 1940’s.