Since 1892, Spruce Point Inn has provided a distinctive and historic vacation experience for travelers to the Maine Mid-coast. A landmark among the Boothbay Harbor summer colonies that have made a name for the destination since the 1870s, Spruce Point Inn offers the same unspoiled views the original inhabitants, sportsmen and notables have enjoyed for generations.
In the 1600s English fishermen and trappers encountered tribal sachem Menawarmet in the area they named Boothbay. Since then Boothbay has provided shelter from the north Atlantic – and enticing opportunity — for a succession of private and commercial interests. In the 1870s, following the Civil War, convenient steamer travel brought summer visitors from the steamy cities of Boston and New York to the fresh breeze and sparkling waters of the Maine coast. Spruce Point was one of the most attractive properties as a finger of shoaling beach and spruce forest looking out to sea with the maritime bustle of Boothbay Harbor farther inland, just around the bend.
Originally purchased to serve as a private fishing camp for ‘rusticators’ – captains of industry who escaped their desks for a week of fine fishing and cordial entertaining with their colleagues – the owners recognized a platform for expansion. Soon other private cottages dotted the peninsula and Spruce Point began to accumulate the memories that made the name legendary
The main building at the Inn was built in the late 1800s by the Marston family from Skowhegan, Maine, and was used as a private hunting and fishing lodge. In 1902, the property was rented to Mrs. Holland, who ran it as a tea house and inn. Ten years later, Walter Holland purchased the inn and continued to operate it with his wife as the Spruce Point Inn and tea house until shortly after World War II. The inn flourished — operating at full capacity with a long waiting list — and a recreation hall (Lighthouse), Balsam Lodge and tennis courts were added. The original classic Down East wood-frame, gambrel roof Victorian still stands. Now containing nine guestrooms, the Inn’s two restaurants, a gameroom and the bright, breezy reception area, the main inn retains the character of the classic Maine shore resort: wood floors, bead-board wainscoting and porch ceilings painted a soothing sky blue. With windows open to the sea breeze and deep wicker chairs, the main floor is a focal point for guests today, as it has been for over 100 years.
During Prohibition, the clubby turn-of-the-century atmosphere of fine whiskies was augmented with local juniper berries. In the 1930s famed swing bands toured the Maine summer resorts including Southport and Boothbay, while town festivals, parades and yacht races added to the fabled charm captured on the pages of the 1936 “Maine Invites You” – featuring Spruce Point Inn. Following WWII, Mr. Holland sold the property to Leroy Race, who operated the inn until 1957. During that time, the average rate was $9 per day — including full American Plan meals (breakfast and dinner).
By 1957, clientele had dwindled and the inn had gradually fallen into disrepair. Raymond P. Harold, a neighbor of the inn, purchased the property and turned over management to his daughter, Charlotte, and her husband, John Druce. The Druces owned and operated the inn for three decades until they sold it in the fall of 1991. Under the ownership of the Druces, the inn once again began to thrive. Though they had only three guests during the first summer, interest in the property grew as new facilities were added. In 1965, the saltwater pool was installed, and a miniature golf course was added. The following year, the Evergreen Lodge was built, and a stone wall was constructed to ring the beach.
The summer of 1967 brought with it the arrival of some very high-profile guests. They included: Vice President Mr. and Mrs. Hubert Humphrey; Senator and Mrs. Edmund Muskie of Maine; Governor and Mrs. Kenneth Curtis of Maine; Governor and Mrs. John King of New Hampshire; Maine Congressman Mr. William Hathaway; Maine Congressman Mr. Peter Kyros; Senator and Mrs. Robert Kennedy; Col. And Mrs. John Glenn; Mr. and Mrs. Andy Williams; Actress Claudine Longet; syndicated columnist Rowland Evans (of CNN’s famed “Evans and Novak”); Joe Kennedy and Chuck McDernmott. Subsequent years brought other noteworthy visitors NBC news commentator Sander Vanocur, Congressman and former Governor of Vermont Robert T. Stafford, and Senator and Mrs. Edward M. Kennedy and their three children, Kara, Teddy and Patrick. The pen and ink sketches by Arthur French now found among the guestrooms date from this era as do the photographs showing regular visitors like Ted and Robert Kennedy, their wives, Andy Williams and Claudine Longest on the dock just back from an afternoon’s sail.
After the Druces decided to retire, in 1991 Ernest Mallett and Bruno DiGiulian purchased the inn, and Joseph Paolillo and Angelo DiGiulian became managers. Starting in 2011, they completed at an extensive upgrade for the Inn, encompassing all aspects of the property from guest rooms and cottages to function space, recreational areas, the waterfront and restaurants.
In February 2019 the owners of Spruce Point Inn concluded the sale of the property to Stonehouse Capital; and after a careful search, Stonehouse Capital engaged BENCHMARK®, a global hospitality company, to operate Spruce Point Inn as part of their Gemstone Collection. A landmark and a legend for more than a century, and Down East Magazine’s “Best Hotel in Maine” for four consecutive years, the historic Spruce Point Inn resort in Boothbay Harbor has reigned as the choice of discerning travelers and one of Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers Choice “best resorts in New England” for years. New ownership and management aim to extend that legacy.