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Prior to 1947, if you were traveling to Bar Harbor you would likely have driven down Millionaires’ Row on your way into town. A stunning view of grand estates that were seasonal homes and summer cottages along Frenchman Bay were a common sight. Mount Desert Island, home to Bar Harbor, was known as the summer retreat for the wealthy. Historic hotels along with the estates kept the town of Bar Harbor and surrounding towns on Mount Desert Island a place for the rich and famous. But on October 17, 1947 everything changed.
After a year of severe drought in 1947, the scene was set for what was one of the most devastating and yet transforming events to take place on Mount Desert Island. The fire began in a cranberry bog and over the course of weeks became a massive path of destruction burning an estimated 17,188 acres. Over 10,000 of those acres were home to Acadia National Park. Of the remaining acres, most of the summer estates and historic hotels were gone. Property damages were over $23 million dollars but thankfully, the loss of human life was minimal for the magnitude of the destruction.
Many residents were able to flee by boat at the Bar Harbor town pier or by car getting off the island via its only bridge. The news made international headlines and after a few days and shifts in wind making the fire uncontrollable, help from the Army Air Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, University of Maine forestry program, and Bangor Theological Seminary came to help. It took almost an entire month and finally on November 14, 1947 the fire was pronounced completely out.
The effects of the fire changed the landscape and lifestyle on Mount Desert Island forever. Acadia National Park has naturally grown back its landscape but now with much more variety in colors, trees, and plants due to the fire and regrowth process. Bar Harbor and its surrounding towns are not just for the rich and famous anymore. Now there are homes and hotels suited for every family to come enjoy the park, the ocean, and quaint town of Bar Harbor.
The Quimby House Inn & Spa was built in the 1890’s and was one of the lucky buildings to survive the fire of 1947. Over the years the Quimby House has been home to businesses as well as private residents. If you are interested in spending your next vacation in the historic town of Bar Harbor, contact us at the Quimby House Inn to reserve your room!