The Carriage Roads – Part IV – The Gatehouses
For my final installment of this series, I will discuss the construction of the two “gate houses” that are located in the park.
A great deal of time was spent researching and discussing the architecture that should be used for the gate houses. Rockefeller hired a prominent New York architect, Grosvenor Atterbury, whom he had worked with before. Atterbury after his research (which included trips to National Parks around the country), concluded that five principles should be observed in selecting the sites for the gatehouses, as well as their appearance. The three most relevent are listed below:
- all buildings should be set “outside” of the picture. In other words, they should not compete with the view.
- that local “ancient” traditions be used whenever possible.
- that compatible “foreign style” be adapted to serve where indigenous traditions are not available.
Following these principles, Rockefeller and Atterbury chose a style reminiscent of European hunting lodges. Both gatehouses are located at inconspicuous places by the edge of the road and surrounded by forest.
The materials used in the construction were granite (the masonry such that the stone used is “coursed”, to present a banded appearance), and brick and timbers for the second story. Small leaded windows adorn the second story and cupolas decorate the roof.
The practical function of the gatehouses were twofold: to mark the entrance to the carriage road system, and to prevent automobiles from entering. Park personnel would live in the gate houses, and monitor the gates.
Today, these gates are ornamental only, as it is clear that these are not roads for automobiles. The gatehouses were the homes for the Park Superintendent and Park Adminstrators and their families for many years, and are still used to house seasonal personnel (a side note: my current landlord’s father was a park administrator and he lived in one of the gate houses as a child).
In closing this series, I would be remiss if I did not discuss the challenge involved in the maintenance and upkeep of these magnificent roads and gatehouses. Between 1992 and 1995, a major restoration project was undertaken to restore the roads. The roads were resurfaced, vegetation was cut back, drainage was restored and improved where necessary, coping stones were replaced, bridges were repointed and waterproofed, and views that had become obstructed were reopened – in fact more than 100 vistas were cleared!
The cost for this restoration was financed by federal construction funds and matching funds from Friends of Acadia (the organization for which I volunteer). In 1995, Friends of Acadia established an endowment to help protect and maintain the carriage roads in perpetuity. Each year more than $200,000 is donated to the park for this purpose. In addition, volunteers contribute thousands of hours cleaning ditches and culverts among other projects under the direction of park staff. Finally, a portion of park fees is set aside for this purpose.
The generosity of these private citizens, by virtue of their money and time continue the spirit of giving that created Acadia National Park. For more information about Friends of Acadia, follow the link located on this page under “Blogroll”. After years of being a distant member of this organization, it is great fun for me to be able to contribute more directly by volunteering my time.
I hope you enjoyed this series about the carriage roads. My next series will explore the history of the hundreds of miles of trails that crisscross the park.