In the 1920s and 1930s the Sprucewold Resort helped make the Boothbay Harbor Region a key part of Maine’s vacationland. Located on a high, thickly forested point of land on the Spruce Point peninsula (on the east side of Boothbay Harbor), the rustic lodge dates to 1926 and was at the core of a 60-cabin resort. A surviving example of the Adirondack-style hotel, the Sprucewold Lodge is rare in that it was one of the last large coastal hotels to be built prior to the Great Depression.
Boothbay Harbor traces its boom in tourism to the “rusticators” who flocked to the region beginning in the late nineteenth century. In addition to early summer colonies of rustic cottages that appeared after the Civil War in places such as Juniper Point, and Squirrel, Southport, and Capitol islands, late-nineteenth-century summer visitors also lodged in large shingled hotels such as the 1877 Samoset House on Mouse Island, which, by the 1920s, had lost popularity.
As early as 1888 the Boothbay Land Company drew plans for a large hotel on the hillcrest of wooded Spruce Point. The plan languished until 1919, when both water and electricity reached Spruce Point. In 1921 the Boothbay Land Company divided its holdings there among four land agents including Alonzo R. Nickerson, who hired Portland architect John P. Thomas to design a grand log hotel. The hotel was advertised as the largest log cabin in the world, complete with a grand dining room, kitchen, and 22 guest rooms. A 31-room annex was added in 1927 and by 1930 there were 60 rental cabins, tennis courts, a swimming pool, recreation hall, and a thirty-car garage.
The annex became the main building of the resort after the original lodge burned in 1930. A two-story log building with engaged porch on the front and back ends, the new lodge measured 140 feet long by 35 feet wide. A small, 12 x 13–foot service wing was set back on each of the east and west elevations. The log construction consists of horizontally laid rounded logs set against vertical log posts at the corners of the building. All the window and door trim is made from log slabs. On the west elevation, near the front of the building, is a large external chimney made of round native stones. The lodge has a three-bay wide facade. On the first floor behind the engaged porch is a central door flanked on either side by a large plate glass window topped by a five-light transom. The front door features a porthole window and decorative, foliated strap hinges—an Arts and Crafts-era motif. The second story has three sets of windows paired with six-over-six lights on the outer bays and a single six-over-six light window in the central bay. Another six-over-six light window marks the attic story. Each side elevation has seven bays (each with four sets of windows) separated by vertical log posts.
After the fire, a family cabin was converted into a new dining room building containing a lobby, dining area, and porch. The one-and-a-half-story log building has a side gable roof with paired gable roof dormers on the east and a long, two-part, side-gable ell on the west. The foundation is a combination of wood, stone, and concrete piers. The lodge, dining hall, and new kitchen (also built after the fire) are all connected by a raised wooden deck. Additional cabins were built nearby in the mid-1940s, including a chef’s cabin that is connected on the northeast corner to the dining hall. It is a frame building with clapboard siding, an asphalt-shingled roof, and stone foundation piers. The small, wood-framed, one-room employee’s cabin located just beyond the chef’s cabin has a gable roof with flush board siding. On the east wall is a door and six-over-one light window and on the west wall is a pair of six-over-six light windows on the west wall. The side-gable dormitory cabin, located on the west end of the deck, is a frame structure with log siding and an asphalt shingled roof. The north elevation has a centrally located batten door covered with vertical log siding flanked on either side by a six-over-six light window.
In 1942, following the death of Nickerson’s son, Parker, the lodge, dining hall, and rental cabins were sold to Frederick E. Dittmar, who proceeded to sell off the rental cabins to private owners. The resort was revived again in the 1970s, when Jack McQuade purchased the lodge, dining hall, and staff cabins. The lodge served as a bed and breakfast in the early twenty-first century. In 2016 it was listed for sale.
Green, Francis Byron. The History of Boothbay, Southport, and Boothbay Harbor. Sommersworth, NH: New England History Press, 1906.
Mitchell, Christi, “Sprucewold Lodge,” Lincoln County, Maine. National Register of Historic Places Inventory–Nomination Form, 2014. National Park Service, U.S. Department of Interior, Washington, D.C.
Otto, Mary K. ed. Rusticators in Sprucewold: Preserving the Legacy.Worcester, MA: Sprucewold History Committee and La Vigne, 2007.