Bar Harbor Historical Society to Purchase Maine Seacoast Mission Home “La Rochelle”
The Bar Harbor Historical Society has signed a purchase and sale agreement to purchase the Maine Seacoast Mission's home on West Street in Bar Harbor "La Rochelle".
Earlier this year, the Bar Harbor Historical Society had purchased land on Cottage Street to move their headquarters from Ledgelawn Avenue. However this summer the Society’s Board of Directors decided to pursue a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to preserve one of the last remaining “cottages,” from the community’s Golden Age.
“We felt the opportunity to preserve not just the town’s history, but also the incredible historic and community resource La Rochelle represents, could not be passed up,” said Society spokesperson Earl Brechlin. “A lot still remains to be done in the next 60 days to make this a reality.”
The Mission has operated from La Rochelle since 1972 when the building, now know as the Colket Center, was donated by that family. Last summer, the Mission announced plans to relocate to Northeast Harbor and use the proceeds of the sale of the 41-room mansion to further its programing and services. The Mission and its vessel, the Sunbeam, have been a fixture in coastal communities and offshore islands, for more than 110 years.
“I am very pleased that the Mission has been able to sign a purchase and sale agreement with the Bar Harbor Historical Society,” said Mission President Scott Planting. “The future use of La Rochelle as a museum and repository of Bar Harbor’s history is a great role for this beautiful building.”
He added “The Historical Society news is welcome and promising. This is still a work in progress. We remain optimistic”
The Society is currently headquartered in the former St. Edward’s Convent at 33 Ledgelawn Avenue. Most recently, it produced and distributed a documentary video on the Great Fire of 1947 that devastated much of Mount Desert Island’s eastern half. A documentary “Consolidation,” about the opening of a consolidated high school on Mount Desert Island, is slated to premiere in October.
“We are going to need a lot of help,” Brechlin said. “There is no question La Rochelle is a major asset to this Island and it is going to take the assistance of the entire community to see that it continues to be.”
The Bar Harbor Historical Society was formed from a subset of supporters of the Jesup Library in the summer of 1946. It is open for regular summer hours and hosts multiple programs annually in addition to its annual holiday gingerbread house contest.
Other current directors include: President, Sherwood Carr, Kim Swan, Estelle Megquier, Bob Davis, Mary Whitney, Dick Cough, Earl Brechlin, Thomas Testa, Kay Theede, Steven Raab, and Phillip Cunningham.