|George B. Dorr|
George Bucknam Dorr was born in 1853 in his parents’ home on the shore of Jamaica Pond in the Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain, MA. He came to MDI with his parents in the summer of 1868. Eight years later they built their Bar Harbor summer home, which they named Oldfarm, on 90 acres at Compass Harbor. The property's entrance is a mile south of the Bar Harbor village green.*1 Dorr was a horticulturalist and in 1896 he established the Mount Desert Nurseries on 20 acres of his Oldfarm property. Irrigation pipes and old culverts off the Schooner Head Path are still visible.*2 He also owned the Bear Brook Quarry, located at the north base of Champlain Mountain.*3 It is below the Park Loop Road parking lot opposite the entrance to the Champlain North Ridge Trail (former name: Bear Brook Trail).
Dorr was among the original founders of the HCTPR in 1901and its incorporators in 1903. Through Dorr’s determination and the efforts of members of the HCTPR, of which Harvard President Charles W. Eliot was President and Dorr its First Vice-President, some 6000 acres of donated land, including Cadillac Mountain, were acquired and presented to President Woodrow Wilson for federal protection. As a result, Wilson established Sieur De Monts National Monument in 1916. Dorr had suggested the name in honor of the Frenchman under whom Samuel de Champlain sailed; it was Champlain who named Mount Desert Island in 1604. In 1919 Congress gave it national park status and renamed it Lafayette National Park in honor of the French general and American Revolutionary War hero. In 1927 Dorr secured the donation of over 2,000 acres of promised land on Schoodic Peninsula across Frenchman Bay from the heirs of native Mainer and wealthy NY-entrepreneur John G. Moore. Moore's daughters, who had immigrated to Great Britain and become citizens, suggested their land donation to the Park could go through if the French name of the Park were changed. Thus in 1929, upon Dorr's suggestion, the Park's name changed from Lafayette to Acadia.
Dorr, who was six feet tall and blue-eyed, never married. He died at his beloved Oldfarm estate in 1944 at the age of 90. According to his wishes, he was cremated at Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, MA and his ashes were scattered beneath the trees at the northwestern foot of Champlain Mountain near the 12-acre Beaver Dam Pond. A popular but entirely fictitious tale maintains that Dorr's ashes were scattered over Oldfarm from an airplane and into the teacups of women relaxing below! A simple memorial stone was placed at the Dorr family lot in Mount Auburn Cemetery. It is often stated he died penniless, having expended all of his wealth on the Park. But that may not be so. His estate gave Bar Harbor's Jesup Memorial Library $12,865.63 and equal amounts of $6,432.81 to the HCTPR and the Abbe Museum of Bar Harbor. His memorial was dedicated on August 29, 1947 at Sieur de Monts Spring. It reads:
In Memory of
George Bucknam Dorr
1853 - 1944
Lover of nature
Father of this
Steadfast in his zeal
to make the beauties
of this Island
available to all
Courtesy: Woodlawn Museum
What became of the Oldfarm estate? Dorr donated it to Acadia National Park in 1941with the wish that it would at least be used as a place for visiting VIPs to meet and stay. The park tore down his Oldfarm home 10 years later, but remnants of it exist.*5 Storm Beach Cottage, the 1879 guest house into which Dorr had moved after conveying Oldfarm, remains and serves as seasonal Park employee housing.*6
|Storm Beach Cottage|
|Home site cleanup-Dec. 2011|
|Oldfarm aerial view|
1 estate entrance: N44° 22.427' W068° 11.834'
2 path entrance: N44° 22.345' W068° 11.670'
3 quarry: N44° 21.785' W068° 11.566'
4 memorial: N44° 21.721' W068° 12.466'
5 home: N44° 22.447' W068° 11.577'
6 cottage: N44° 22.317' W068° 11.560'