Bar Harbor’s long and renowned history as one of New England’s premier resort destinations began in the mid 1800’s. In the beginning, it was primarily artists, scholars and writers who journeyed to Mount Desert Island for inspiration. Famous among them were Thomas Cole, founder of the Hudson River School, and the school’s most accomplished artist, Frederic Church. As their paintings of seascapes and landscapes reached the big cities, people wanted to see the source of this inspiration for themselves. As the number of visitors began to increase, so too did the need for seasonal lodging. It was local businessman Tobias Roberts, who built Bar Harbor’s first hotel known as Agamont House in 1855. By 1888, eighteen hotels had been constructed to accommodate some 2,500 seasonal visitors, and the development of Bar Harbor had begun.
By the late 1800’s, many of Bar Harbor’s visitors, or “Rusticators” as they were once known, desired more private accommodations. Thus began the age of the Bar Harbor “cottages.” Ultimately there were more than 220 lavish summer retreats built in and around the village of Bar Harbor for the wealthiest socialites of New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington and Chicago. Tragically, one third of these estates burned in the Great Fire of 1947. Many others suffered insurmountable neglect during the Great Depression and World War II. But almost all that survived are now well cared for, and several have been renovated as welcoming inns. The Saltair (1887) carries on the traditions of hospitality that founded the village of Bar Harbor so many years ago. Built as a guest house for Mr. and Mrs. William Rice, Saltair has been welcoming visitors to Bar Harbor for more than 130 years.
Bar Harbor’s Village Green, town pier, and a variety of unique shops, galleries and restaurants are a ten minute walk from the inn. The Saltair Inn is convenient to everything in town, yet far enough removed to preserve the peaceful tranquility of its distinguished location in the West Street Historic District. Indoors or out, Bar Harbor offers something for everyone. Shopping, dining, music festivals, museums, free concerts in the Village Green, and special community events are only a few of the activities to keep you busy within the village