Luxurious Leisure

Text by Candace Kanes

Images from Maine Historical Society, Baxter State Park, Caribou Public Library, Fryeburg Historical Society, Kennebunk Free Library, Lamoine Historical Society, Naples Historical Society, Southwest Harbor Public Library, Stanley Museum, and Sullivan and Sorrento Historical Society

Large resorts and especially resort hotels were popular in America from the early decades of the nineteenth century through about World War I.

Middle- and upper-class Americans sought to imitate the style and luxury of Europe and, by the post Civil War era, wanted escapes from urban areas, industrial noise and pollution, and the growing numbers of immigrants.

Leisure was a sought-after commodity as were resorts that offered restorative waters, exercise, and healthy seashore air. Some resorts focused more on health, others on luxury.

Railroads took people to the resorts, as did steam boats and interurban railways. Many women and children spent several months at resort hotels, joined by men as their work schedules allowed.

By 1920, the ascendancy of the automobile and the ease with which people could move from one locale to another began the decline of the resort hotels that dotted the Maine coast, rivers, lakes and mountain regions.

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