What’s not to love about Bar Harbor, Maine! It’s one of the special ports we visit on PEARL SEAS.
First settled by Europeans in 1763, initially it was a center for shipbuilding, fishing and agriculture. In the mid-19th Century it began to attract artists of the Hudson River School. Railroad access developed and summer homes began to be built. As a Gilded Age resort rivaled Newport as summer destination for rich and famous. And today it still attracts the wealthy and famous, folks that can plunk down millions of dollars for a summer cottage. And it IS beautiful. The Acadia National Park offers spectacular views of the coast and Cadillac Mountain , at 1,532 feet the tallest point along the eastern coast of the United States, is the first spot in the U.S. to see the sun rise from October to March.
The year-round population of 5,235 swells during the summer with wealthy home owners coming to enjoy their luxurious summer “cottages,” often just tolerating the day trippers arriving by ferries and cruise ship passengers. The main street downtown is crowded with t-shirt shops and shops selling everything from tourist kitsch to lobster ice cream. Yes,, lobster ice cream! I’m allergic to shell fish so I haven’t tried the “lobstah” ice cream, but guests who have, tell me lobster will never replace chocolate.
My advice is to get out of the busy “downtown” and appreciate the wonders of Arcadia National Park. But there is one gem you should not miss while you are downtown. Just a few steps off the main street on Mt Desert Street, just beyond the Abbe Museum is the St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church.
Now I know that many time guests knee-jerk reaction is, “Not, yet another church!” But stick with me, this church is something special. I know that from the outside it doesn’t look like much, “just another church.” But just wait until you step inside.
It takes a few moments for your eyes to adjust before you begin to note the incredible stained glass windows in this little church, many of which are the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany, mid-nineteenth century artist/designer, probably best known today for his “Tiffany style” knock-off lamps, but in his day Tiffany designed everything from European palaces to the rooms of the White House. But he is best know for his artistry in stained glass. At first, unable to find colored glass with imperfections he took to breaking up old jelly glasses, but eventually began manufacturing his own glass.
What’s amazing about this little church in Bar Harbor is the amazing Tiffany windows!