The Bar Harbor Bandstand
Village Green
Built - 1899

The southern Maine coastal town of Bar Harbor has brought multitudes of people over the years to this beautiful resort area that is located at the foot of Cadillac Mountain and the Acadia National Park which brings many hearty campers and hikers in during the summer months and into fall. Since Bar Harbor is a port of entry, many seafaring visitors also flock to the area. There have been numerous famous and wealthy people who have settled on the coast of the island thus lavish estates dot the coastline. The downtown area is busy with people who enjoy its many unique shops and a good lobster dish in many fine restaurants. So Bar Harbor offers something for everyone.
However, in 1947 the town suffered a devastating fire which destroyed much of the downtown area but it was quickly built up again due to the area's popularity. In the downtown area lies the Village Green which has its bandstand located in the center. This structure has now withstood over 100 years of tough coastal New England weather and evidently, the terrible fire.
The Bar Harbor Bandstand was built on land where the former Grand Central Hotel complex until the town bought the land in the 1890s for $45,000, leveled the hotel, cleaned up the lot and a group of townspeople then raised $129 to build the bandstand for the enjoyment of the citizens and visitors to the area. The first concert was played on the bandstand on July 21, 1899.
Written in "A Native's Memories of Old Bar Harbor" by Nan Cole, Down East-Sept 1970 is a description made of the early 1900s band: "local musicians, each pridefully aware both of his talent and his bandsman's uniform. The dark blue suits, trimmed with gold braid was topped by blue-visored caps, and the brass buttons on the uniforms, as well as each man's shoes and band instruments, all were polished to a high degree of luster that gleamed in the lights from the bandstand." Also stated: "The players had entered the stand by means of a ladder which once they were ensconed, was stored beneath the platform until the concert was over."
"When President Taft was to speak from what on such occasions was called the "grandstand." (1910). I was bothered by how the committee would get that portly President up and down the famous ladder without mishap."
During those early days, a very controversial matter had brewed over whether the Boston Symphony Orchestra should play on the bandstand to replace the local band and provide much more quality music to the crowd who attended the concerts. Many local residents who attended this town meeting at the casino felt that local talent should be performing rather than showcase professional talent. A compromise was finally agreed upon setting the local bands playing 4 nights per week and the Boston Symphony the other 3 nights which was what transpired for many years. 30 members of the Boston Symphony would make the trip to Bar Harbor for the concerts.
In 1920, the Village Improvement Association called in the distinguished landscape gardener, Beatrix Farrand, who altered the layout of the Village Green banishing the barberry hedges and had the bandstand moved to its present site. In 1972, the bandstand was refurbished.

"Lest We Forget" - Barbara D. Fox, author

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