CRANBERRY HOUSE

Display Panels

Rusticators

Click on a small picture to expand it.
Click on the browser's BACK button to return here.


The influx of summer visitors to this area began shortly after the painter Thomas Cole visited in 1836-1844 and, struck by the beauty of Mt. Desert and the surrounding islands, persuaded his fellow "Hudson River School" painter friends to come and paint here.  The result was several magnificent landscapes encouraging interest in the area, such as Frederick Church's "Fog off Mt. Desert," credited with inspiring the first Rusticator to make the long journey to Mt. Desert, and Fritz Hugh Lane's "Entrance of Somes Sound from Southwest Harbor," among many pieces of his featuring Somes Sound.

The New York Tribune reporter sent here to cover the story advocated Mt. Desert as a refuge for artists and "seaside summer loungers."  Other papers and journals sent illustrators, and their engravings of scenes of dramatic natural splendor, of mountains and rock formations, caves and deserted islands, graced many papers and magazines.

Soon wealthy visitors started arriving to see the originals of these scenes.  They were humorously called "Rusticators" because they wanted to live a rustic life, but on their own terms of comfort and convenience.  This they did, bringing their own cooks, butlers, maids, and nannies from Boston, New York, and elsewhere.

The trip here was a long one.  First by boat from Boston, then a train ride, finally a buckboard over rough roads to the island.  Later one could take a train directly from Boston, then the J.T. Morse, a steamboat with stops in Southwest Harbor, Northeast Harbor, and Seal Harbor.

Northeast Harbor's growth was fueled by Charles Eliot, who camped there with his fellow Harvard student friends.  He urged his father Charles William Eliot, President of Harvard, to purchase property.  That prompted Charles Dunbar to follow, and he bought on Bear Island in 1884.  The Eliots were joined by Episcopal Bishop Doane of Albany, who conducted services in the first wooden chapel in Northeast Harbor.  J.P. Morgan would sail his huge yacht, the Corsair, from Bar Harbor just to hear Bishop Doane preach.

The first Rusticator on Great Cranberry Island was Moorfield Storey, a Boston lawyer who was a friend of Eliot.  He favored Cranberry Island over Mt. Desert, and selected a high property with sweeping views of the ocean on one side, and the mountains of Mt. Desert on the other.  There was a Cape style house on the property, but he built a new home in 1899.  The Cape was used as servants' quarters, often Irish immigrants.  Other family members bought homes from the local people in that same general area in the southern part of the island.  In the 1920s more summer visitors arrived.  The island was changing.

Moorfield Storey
Cranberry Island's First Rusticator

Moorfield Storey, a prominate Boston lawyer, was nationally known. He was president of the American Bar Association, an active member of the Anti-Imperialist League, and the first president of the NAACP. He was also active in gaining independance for the Philippine Islands. He arrived in Northeast Harbbor after the Civil war, building a house there. In 1887 he built a house on Great Cranberry.