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In the Good Old Summertime

This Exhibit Contains 10 Items
1
The Damariscotta River Steamboat Company fleet at South Bristol, 1902

The Damariscotta River Steamboat Company fleet at South Bristol, 1902

Item 81723 info
South Bristol Historical Society

Signs of a new "industry" began to appear in the South Bristol area of the Town of Bristol in the late 1880's.

Better transportation throughout New England, including numerous steamship lines along the coast and up and down the rivers, helped give birth to the "summer business" – what is now called tourism.

Local families quickly realized that much-needed income could be earned by renting rooms to summer visitors and providing them with meals and other services.


2
The Summit House Hotel in South Bristol Village, ca. 1910

The Summit House Hotel in South Bristol Village, ca. 1910

Item 79563 info
South Bristol Historical Society

It was not long before hotels began to appear to supplement the offerings of the local boarding houses.

In the village of South Bristol, Nelson Gamage built the Summit House in 1892. Perched atop the rise on Rutherford Island south of the Gut, the hotel had expansive views of the Damariscotta River to the west, the busy South Bristol harbor to the north, and the eastern Gut and Johns Bay on the East.


3
The Thompson Inn in South Bristol Village ca. 1924

The Thompson Inn in South Bristol Village ca. 1924

Item 79561 info
South Bristol Historical Society

By the early 1890's, Ada Thompson McFarland and her husband Eliphalet had been taking in summer boarders for several years.

Several times, they expanded the home that Ada's father built in 1840 on the mainland near the harbor.

By 1924, known as the Thompson Inn, it had a large two-story wing and a veranda, making it a major attraction to the summer folk.


4
First Holly Inn, Christmas Cove, 1906

First Holly Inn, Christmas Cove, 1906

Item 79551 info
South Bristol Historical Society

At Christmas Cove a mile or so south of South Bristol village, the same scenario was taking place.

Several families began to take in boarders during the summer; then came the hotels.

Edward Thorpe built the forty-room Holly Inn in 1904. His family home next door was enlarged as the Rutherford House and used as an annex.

Three years later, this Holly Inn burned to the ground.


5
Clubhouse and tennis courts, Christmas Cove, ca. 1910

Clubhouse and tennis courts, Christmas Cove, ca. 1910

Item 79552 info
South Bristol Historical Society

Meanwhile, in 1900 a number of regular summer visitors, several now cottage-owners themselves, decided that a gathering place was needed for religious observances and for social events and athletics such as tennis and boating.

The Christmas Cove Improvement Association was formed and the "CCIA" purchased land near the steamboat dock where in 1904 the casino was built, followed soon after by tennis courts.

Formal incorporation documents state the purposes of the CCIA to be "to promote the material, social, and moral welfare of Christmas Cove."


6
Christmas Cove, the Holly Inn and the Boston Yacht Club, ca 1917

Christmas Cove, the Holly Inn and the Boston Yacht Club, ca 1917

Item 79553 info
South Bristol Historical Society

Edward Thorpe and his son Albert did not waste any time after the original Holly Inn was destroyed by fire.

By the summer of 1908 building the "New" Holly Inn was up and running with 90 rooms.


7
The Second Holly Inn Fire, Christmas Cove, 1923

The Second Holly Inn Fire, Christmas Cove, 1923

Item 79555 info
South Bristol Historical Society

As was the case with so many New England summer hotels, however, the second Holly Inn also fell victim to fire and was destroyed August 10, 1923.

With financial backing from some wealthy members of the now vibrant summer community, Albert Thorpe built the slightly larger third Holly Inn.

This version of the Holly Inn lasted just a few years longer than its predecessor; it burned to the ground on September 12, 1940.


8
Russell House and cottages, Christmas Cove, ca.1936

Russell House and cottages, Christmas Cove, ca.1936

Item 79559 info
South Bristol Historical Society

Meanwhile on the west side of Christmas Cove, Albion P. and Hannah Gamage had begun taking in boarders in 1890.

They enlarged their home around 1900, added an annex and moved another house next to it to be used as a dormitory for the staff. They named the complex the "Russell House."


9
Coveside Inn, Christmas Cove, ca. 1980

Coveside Inn, Christmas Cove, ca. 1980

Item 79560 info
South Bristol Historical Society

The Russell House was sold in 1940 and renamed the "Coveside Inn."

The restaurant and lounge at Coveside were popular gathering places during the summer months, for year-round residents of Rutherford Island as well as the summer visitors.

In 1960 a small motel was constructed near the shore and a restaurant was built on pilings over the water.

In 1978 a vicious winter storm destroyed the restaurant, but it was rebuilt by then owners Mike and Barbara Mitchell.


10
The Coveside Inn demolition, Christmas Cove, 2006

The Coveside Inn demolition, Christmas Cove, 2006

Item 81710 info
South Bristol Historical Society

The Inn continued to receive summer visitors, though this aspect of the business was declining.

Finally the entire property was sold to a developer in 2006. The new owner arranged with the local fire department to burn the building in a training exercise.

So ended the last of the summer hotels in Christmas Cove.


This Exhibit Contains 10 Items