Table Of Contents
Immerse yourself in the splendor of Bar Harbor’s gilded age at Cleftstone Manor. Once a private residence, this mansion was built in 1881 and offers luxurious accommodations for guests. Lofty ceilings, heavy timbers, deep windows and ornate moldings are the bones of this architectural gem. Serene colors, tasteful antique and reproduction furnishings provide a welcome retreat from the whirl of Bar Harbor activity.
Breakfast at the Cleftstone is generous, and our recipes featuring fresh Maine ingredients are often requested. Abby’s Retreat is a wicker-filled sunporch where guests may share light appetizers as well as their discoveries of the day. Furnishings, art, sculpture and exotic memorabilia are reminiscent of the Cleftstone’s beginning in Bar Harbor’s heyday, and include Joseph Pulitzer’s dining room table, 12-feet long and made of tiger oak. A rare amber glass collection is on display in the parlor, where a fire glows on cool evenings and comfortable seats are perfect for an afternoon read.
Join us, and recapture the spirit of Bar Harbor at the turn of the century.
Meet The Innkeepers
Anne and Robert Bahr share a passion for both the arts and for hospitality.
Cleftstone Manor reflects Anne’s flair for color and style, and Robert’s deep, articulate voice frequently greets callers. Their love for theatre and play can be seen in Lola, the fully costumed mannequin that dispenses candy on the second-floor landing and in the vast collection of new and vintage games throughout the inn. Anne and Robert met while they were performing together in the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Hancock County, and they purchased Cleftstone Manor in 2003.
Anne’s family were innkeepers of a converted mansion in Bar Harbor, so it was natural that she took up innkeeping as a career. She renovated the Cleftstone’s sister inn, White Columns Inn, becoming its sole owner in 1991. Anne does much of the interior decoration herself, and finds another creative outlet in her unforgettable breakfasts. Ask for a recipe, she is delighted to share.
Robert has a knack for detail, and keeps reservations in order. Hailing from Iowa, Robert studied to be a concert pianist. Besides performing, directing and composing, Robert was music director for Memphis Ballet, executive director of Bangor Symphony Orchestra and executive director of Grand Auditorium.
They both keep involved in the arts. Anne continues to perform in local theater in the off-season as well as costuming local productions. Robert continues his passion for the arts by performing evenings at the Reading Room Restaurant. He continues to perform concerts in Maine and in the Midwest, and has a second album coming out in the spring of 2012.
Together, they host an annual costumed fundraiser for the Bar Harbor Bed and Breakfast Association, and offer star-studded hospitality to the guests of both Cleftstone Manor and White Columns Inn.
History of the Inn
Cleftstone Manor was built in 1881 and is a classic summer cottage of that era. Called cottages, the summer homes of Bar Harbor’s Golden Age had numerous bedrooms, ballrooms were not uncommon, servants quarters a must, and they were not at all what one associates with the word cottage.
Charles T. How, a Boston attorney and the first real estate developer of Bar Harbor, purchased 100 acres for $1,500 in 1872. The Cleftstone was built a few years later and the rest of the land divided into lots, named Woodbury Park. This became a desirable location for summer cottagers, and massive homes such as Mizzentop, Belmont, Beau Desert and Steepways were part of this exclusive neighborhood. Property values rose quickly, and in 1886 one lot in Woodbury Park sold for $40,000. The streets buzzed with the activity of delivery wagons bringing groceries. Servants, tradesmen, and laborers went about their daily business, and the carriages of the privileged young men and women who summered here and their notable parents passed by. This was the hey day of Bar Harbor, then named Eden.
Cleftstone Cottage, as it was called then, was designed by architect Bruce Price who designed the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City. The name comes from a large cleft in the granite about fifty feet from the main entrance. Price also designed The Turrets, which is now part of College of the Atlantic. The original cottage was actually two structures. There was a main house with six bedrooms and one bath, and a smaller building for the staff. This servant building did not have a bath, but did include a laundry room.
A history of hospitality was established early on. The Hows used Cleftstone as a seasonal rental home. The Mount Desert Herald’s social column is a testament to the popularity of Cleftstone, and the cream of Bar Harbor society attended balls, dinner parties, and afternoon teas at the cottage.
Prominent renters included Emmons Blaine, son of Secretary of State James G. Blaine, and Joseph Pulitzer, the New York publisher and originator of the Pulitzer Prize. Pulitzer spent several summers at Cleftstone, where he would have a servant read to him every night. This eccentric publisher editorialized against great wealth, yet led Bar Harbor society with yachting parties, balls, and lavish spending. He brought his own dining table and because of the unusual size chose to leave it here rather than move it when he purchased his own cottage, Chatwold.
In 1893, Frank Ellis, a lawyer from Cincinnati, and his wife Laura purchased Cleftstone. The expansive home was made even larger with the addition of a servants wing. This was still not enough space, however, and in 1903 the master bedroom suite and a ballroom were added. This spacious and elegant room was used for parties, and in 1911 a reception honoring President Taft was held. In addition to a talent for throwing spectacular parties, Frank Ellis had a reputation as the black sheep of the family. His grandson recalls family visits with his grandfather, who he said had a fondness for drink.
The Ellises divorced, Laura married Gist Blair, and wintered at Blair House in Washington and summered at Cleftstone in Bar Harbor. The cottage was passed on, family lost interest, and it became empty for the first time in its long and colorful history. Three days before the devastating fire of ‘47, Josephine McCaffrey purchased Cleftstone, planning to turn it into an inn. She was out of town the day of the fire, uninsured, and legend has it the students from the seminary across the street kept hosing down the grass around the building. Whatever the reason, Cleftstone escaped the flames while neighboring houses burned to the ground, and Josephine converted the home to a hotel.
Cleftstone has been welcoming guests ever since. In the 1980's it was restored and refurnished with antiques and period pieces, and it once again glows with the history and ambience of Bar Harbor’s Golden Age.
All rooms have
- Private baths
- Fine bed linens
- Plush towels
- Original local and regional art
- FM radio
- Coffee and tea always available in Abbey's Retreat
- Whirlpool baths
- Sherry and chocolates
Guests staying in Estate Rooms enjoy the use of the complimentary in-house DVD library.
The library is equipped with high-speed internet access, books and games. An outdoor pool is available, and all rooms have private baths, air conditioning and television.
The outdoor pool overlooks Frenchman Bay, so you can float in warm waters while admiring the cooler Atlantic in the distance. Located at the adjacent Bluenose Inn, the pool is available for all Cleftstone guests. It is just across from Eden Spa, which offers a heated indoor pool and spa treatments.
We are happy to arrange for taxis, tickets, dinner reservations, massages, or champagne and flowers.
Breakfast and Social Hour
A full breakfast is served every morning in our breakfast room. Blueberry muffins, our unique fluffy quiche, and formidable Belgian waffles drizzled with Maine maple syrup are among our varying breakfast selections. Each morning you have a choice of a sweet or savory breakfast entrée, or hot or cold cereal. There is always start-the-day-right bread baked in our own kitchen, and your choice of fruit juice and fruit. Hot brewed coffee from our special blend is plentiful, and we have a wide choice of select teas on hand. If you have any special requests or dietary restrictions, please ask. We are happy to do what we can to accommodate them.
At the end of an active day, gather with other guests in Abby’s Retreat to enjoy light appetizers and socialize before dinner. The light wicker-filled sunporch also has our stash of local menus and brochures so you can plan your evening meal and think about tomorrow. Tides are posted here daily, so you can check whether a low-tide walk over the sand bar to Bar Island will fit into your visit. Done for the day? Stay right here and choose your weapon–chess, Monopoly and Pictionary are among the challenges we keep on hand in Abby’s Retreat.
Our seventeen guestrooms are as unique as their names. Opulent or intimate, they all have crisp linens, antique furnishings, private baths (two are detached), and are decorated with pleasing colors and fabrics. They also have their own stories to tell. There is the room where Joseph Pulitzer slept, and Mrs. Ellis’s dressing room. The four-room suite is named after Waldron Bates, the pathmaker. Another room was once the library. Browse our gallery, find the room that suits you, and start anticipating your visit to Bar Harbor’s Golden Age.
Deluxe Estate Rooms are exceptionally spacious and elegant. All have king sized beds and private baths with tub and shower. They also include either a fireplace or whirlpool tub or balcony/patio area. Televisions with DVD and telephones are in each room. For guests looking for that extra special experience, these are our most special rooms.
Superior Estate Rooms are very spacious with one queen bed and private bath with tub and shower. All include a television with DVD and some include a telephone or fireplace. Rooms may include a sofa bed to accommodate one extra person.
Deluxe Cottage Rooms are spacious with one queen bed and private bath with a tub and shower. All include a television and some have a telephone and fireplace.
Superior Cottage Rooms are moderately sized with one queen bed and private bath. All include a television and some have telephones. One has a fireplace.
We travel, too, and know how important all the details can be. If we have overlooked something, just ask. Your comfort is our priority.
Plan Your Stay
You cannot do it all, tempting though it may be. Mount Desert Island has so much to offer. Active lifestyle? Hike, climb, bike and kayak. Love to learn? There are guided walking tours, museums, oceanariums, and an array of top notch lecture series. Want to relax, and relax more? A leisurely carriage ride through the park, cocktails by the harbor, and a round of spa treatments might be just the ticket. Love to eat? There is lobster, of course, and local cheeses, wine tastings, farmer’s markets and blueberry everything.
We know the area, and can help you choose the best combination of activities to give you a true taste of Mount Desert Island. We can probably give you a few ideas you won’t find in the guide books. Just ask, we are always glad to share our love of the area.
We have trails maps, menus, field guides, activity information, and self-guided audio tours available. Visit some of the links at left and start your list–you have many, many adventures from which to choose.
Weddings & Events
Imagine a rehearsal dinner around Joseph Pulitzer’s massive dining room table. Savor a specially prepared menu fit for a king–or a bride. Pamper those toes with a visit to the spa. Weddings at the Cleftstone are as special as you are. Corporate retreat? Let us take care of the details, so you can get down to business. The Cleftstone can be booked for your personal or business event. Your guests will be saying, “Wow!” for years to come when you host a Cleftstone event.
Email us via the "contact us" button, or call 888.288.4951 to speak with Anne.
How To Find Us
Finding Cleftstone Manor
- Coming from Ellsworth on Route 3, you will cross a bridge at the head of the island
- From here you are about 15 minutes away
- Take the left fork, and follow Route 3 until you pass the Days Inn on the right
- Travel 1/4 mile farther you will see a road on your right and the large, brown Cleftstone Manor directly ahead
Driving to Bar Harbor
- Bar Harbor is easily accessible by car; from Boston (268 miles/about 5.5 to 6 hours, and from Portland about 3.5 hours)
- Follow I-95 through to Bangor (exit 182-A - 395)
- Then pick up on Route 1A to Ellsworth, and follow Route 3 to Bar Harbor
Another route would be to take I-95 to Augusta, take Route 3 to Belfast over to Route 1 to Ellsworth, then back to Route 3 into Bar Harbor
There is also the coastal Route 1. It meanders thought picturesque villages and takes quite a bit longer to reach Bar Harbor
Bar Harbor is serviced by a local airport, the Hancock County Airport, located just 12 miles from the village, and by Bangor International Airport only 50 miles (about 1 hour) away.
During the summer months, Bar Harbor is serviced by Greyhound/Vermont Transit from Boston. Since schedules vary, it is best to check with the bus line.