The Story of the Samoset Resort, a Legendary Maine Resort
For over a century, the Samoset Resort has distinguished itself as one of the premier luxury resorts in Maine, renowned for its award-winning service and expansive views of Penobscot Bay. With the soft Camden Hills rising to the east and the spacious grounds of Jameson Point to the west, the Samoset has welcomed guests from around the globe to our illustrious Maine Resort for generations.
The Samoset was first opened as the Bay Point Resort on July 4, 1889. Built and operated by Francis Cobb II, a well-known entrepreneur of the day, the Bay Point was sold in 1902 to the Ricker family, owners and operators of the Poland Springs House and Poland Spring Water. Hiram Ricker renamed the resort "The Samoset," after the Pemaquid Chief who was among the first people to greet the Mayflower Pilgrims. He also embellished the distinctive L-shaped building with turrets, porches, and wooden latticework that quickly established the Samoset as the grand resort of coastal Maine.
In 1911, the Maine Central Railroad acquired the Samoset. This was the golden age for luxury resorts, when railroads flourished and steamboats regularly transported wealthy summer visitors to the resort for extended stays. Then a seasonal Maine resort, the Samoset staff (over 200) would sign up for winter work at an elegant Florida resort, and return to Maine during the summer months.
The Great Depression and automobile competition brought hard times to the Maine Central Railroad, and all of the resorts in Maine. In 1941 the Samoset was sold for only $25,000, to Adriel Bird of the La Touraine Coffee Company and William Doe of Boulton, Smart Company in Boston. Although considered well past its “heyday,” the Samoset Resort still attracted famous visitors to coastal Maine, including soon-to-be Vice President, Harry Truman.
The resort was sold again in 1946 to the Sonnabend Corporation, which eventually became part of what is now Sonesta International. After struggling for years to stay open, the Samoset's doors were closed in 1969. Furnishings were sold at auction, including grand pianos, crystal chandeliers, bar stools and room keys. It marked the end of an era. Weeds began to overtake the once grand resort, and on October 13, 1972, the Samoset was completely destroyed by a fire.
A Connecticut developer had the vision to build a new Samoset Resort, financed by Builders Investment Group (BIG) of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania and architectural design by Stephen Kent Biggs, AIA, LRAIA, RIBA. The new Samoset opened its doors on September 9, 1974, and was constructed almost entirely from the beautiful old timbers of a deserted granary, which was once a Portland, Maine landmark. BIG eventually took title to the resort in August 1978.
In June 1984, the Samoset Resort changed ownership but not hands. BIG, now part of Winn Enterprises based in California, changed its corporate direction from real estate to the dairy business. Members of the management team seized the opportunity to form a Maine limited partnership, Samoset Resort Investors, to acquire the property.
Over the last two decades, significant construction has taken place to establish the Samoset as one of the premier resorts in Maine. In the summer of 1981, the property was approved for purpose-built one and two-bedroom time-share condominiums. The concept has been a tremendous success bringing a total of 72 units to the resort with over 3,600 families.
On January 28, 1999, the resort was sold to Samorock, LLC, an affiliate of Ocean Properties Ltd. of Portsmouth, New Hampshire—one of the largest independent resort operators in the nation, which is headed by the Walsh family of Bangor, Maine. A quality operator of hotels and resorts in Maine, the Walsh family brings their years of experience and passion for hospitality to the Samoset and Maine’s coastal communities.
Today, the Samoset Resort is as an award-winning year-round Maine vacation destination and conference center. We have been ranked among the best golf resorts in the U.S. by Condé Nast Traveler and as one of the best family vacation destinations in the world by Travel + Leisure. The Samoset Resort has also been honored with the prestigious AAA Four-Diamond Award and is a certified “Environmental Leader” for our commitment to green initiatives and environmentally-responsible practices.
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