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Poland Spring Museum and Environmental Education Center
The Poland Springs Bottling Plant celebrates the rich history of what was once a major American spa. As early as 1797 Jabez Ricks founded a hostelry at the springs and later claimed that drinking the water saved him from a serious illness. In 1876 Hiram Ricker, Jabez’s grandson, opened the Poland Spring House, a “watering place” or spa, acclaimed for its health-giving environment. While the grand hotel burned in 1975, the bottling plant, designed and built in 1907, remains and still operates.
In 1903 Hiram Ricker’s son, Edward P. Ricker, wrote to architect Harry C. Wilkinson, a native of Poland, Maine, to solicit a design for his proposed bottling plant. Wilkinson had apprenticed in Lewiston, Maine, before moving to Washington, D.C., where he became a draftsman in the Office of the Supervising Architect of the U.S. Treasury. The plans Wilkinson submitted were seemingly extravagant considering the utilitarian purpose of the facility. The European roots of often luxurious spas may have motivated the plant’s design. Rectangular in plan, the tower rising over the plant is reminiscent of the towers rising over the Tuscan town of San Gimignano. The one-story brick plant has round-arched windows and features a hipped roof with wide overhanging eaves supported by Italianate brackets. The tall Tuscan tower rises from the center of the southwest elevation. Built of rusticated brick, the shaft is unornamented except for the decorative medallions adorning all four sides. Atop the tower are openings in each elevation containing Tuscan columns in antis and shallow balconies.
The entrance to the spring house is located on the southeast facade. It, too, features Tuscan columns and pilasters supporting an entablature surmounted by a lunette set within a large round arch. On either side of the building is a round-arched window designed to provide plentiful daylight for visitors sampling the water. The privately owned building is now the Poland Spring Museum and Environmental Education Center and is opened seasonally.
Beard, Frank A., “Poland Spring House and Bottling Plant,” Androscoggin County, Maine. National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form, 1984. National Park Service. U.S. Department of Interior, Washington, D.C.
Poland Spring Preservation Society. “Poland Spring: History.” Accessed April 4, 2015. http://www.polandspringps.org/.
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