Monday, December 9, 2013

The Emery Path -- Another Historic Gem in Acadia NP

Among the architecturally interesting and historic hikes in Acadia National Park are those in its Sieur de Monts section. Here there are seven memorial paths, each established in the early 1900s by a spouse or relative to honor a loved one. The Emery Path is one of them. It is accessed just behind the Sieur de Monts spring house and is discernible by its ascending stone steps and nearby trail post. A half mile in length, the Emery Path passes the Homans Path on its north side. It continues to the junction of the Schiff Path up to the Dorr Mountain summit and the Kurt Diederich Climb path down to the junction of the Kane, Jesup and Beachcroft (Smith) Paths at The Tarn. Taking the Kurt Diederich Climb down provides a nice 1 1/4-mile loop back to the hike's start at the spring house via the Jesup Path.

The Turrets
The Turrets entrance hallway
John Josiah Emery, for whom the path is named, was born in Ohio in 1837 of parents who had emigrated from England in the 1830s. He became wealthy from real estate and inheritance.*1 He and his two brothers had significant investments in the development of Cincinnati's commercial and residential real estate market. In 1892 he married Minnesota-born Lela Alexander (1864-1953) and in 1895 they built their Bar Harbor summer cottage, The Turrets, on four waterfront acres off Eden Street.*2  The granite, fortress-like mansion was designed by Bruce Price, the NY architect of the Le Chateau Frontenac hotel in Quebec, Canada.*3  In 1896, after retiring from his Cincinnati businesses, the Emery family moved to Manhattan. John continued his involvement in Bar Harbor, where he was a member of the Bar Harbor Village Improvement Association's Roads and Paths committee under chairman Herbert Jaques and with notable co-members Waldron Bates, George Dorr and Beatrix Farrand.*4

The Turrets today
 In 1908 he died of pneumonia at The Turrets, leaving his wife and five children ages 4 to 14. He was buried with his parents and brothers in Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati. A later burial included his youngest daughter Audrey (1904-1971). Among the bequests in his will Emery left $20K to the Children's Hospital of the Episcopal Church of Cincinnati, besides the land he had donated for it in the mid 1880s. He also left $200K and his valuable artworks to the Cincinnati Museum Association, now called the Cincinnati Art Museum.

His wife Lela provided the funds to build the Emery Path, which was completed in 1916 as a memorial to him. It is an amazing adventure over granite steps and staircases across the lower east side of Dorr Mountain.
                                  Penobscot Marine Museum photo*5
These old and current photographs (above) show an intricate granite staircase built inside a cliffside gap on the Emery Path.
It is here where this prominent photograph was taken of George Dorr, a founder of Acadia NP and its first superintendent.

Hikers should keep an eye out for two granite benches nearby that were installed for rest and scenic views of the Great Meadow, Champlain Mountain and Frenchman Bay.

1 Emery's father had established a candle manufacturing plant in Cincinnati and developed the dripless candle. He died tragically from an accidental 5-storey fall from a catwalk in his plant into a vat of boiling oil.
2. The construction of The Turrets wasn't Emery's first time in Bar Harbor. He was there at least by 1881, when he stayed at the Rodick House hotel, and continued to visit Bar Harbor thereafter. Bar Harbor Mount Desert Herald, July 17, 1881, p.2.
3 The Turrets is now a campus administrative building of the College of the Atlantic.
4 Bar Harbor Record, July 25, 1896, p.1.
5 The Penobscot Marine Museum's photograph collection can be accessed here

GPS coordinates:
Emery Path start - N44° 21.695'  W068° 12.513'
The Turrets - N44° 23.684'  W068° 13.201'