Bar Harbor Historical Society readies for opening of new museum

BAR HARBOR, Maine (WABI) - The Bar Harbor Historical Society is opening its new museum Thursday, in an old building that has plenty of its own history already.

“The house is as much a part of the exhibit as what we put in it," said Historical Society President Earl Brechlin,

That house is a 41-room brick mansion, called “La Rochelle.” A throwback to a bygone era.

“It's a beautiful home that was built at the beginning of the 20th century, It really does tell the story of the gilded age, said Carolyn Rapkievian,, the Historical Society’s Executive Director.

“I know there were a lot of parties here,” added board member Kay Theede “You know, you can just see it. You can feel it. The house has really good bones.”

The Bar Harbor Historical society’s previous location was an old convent on Mt. Dessert street. They’ve spent the better part of a year moving everything to La Rochelle down on West Street. But in reality, this museum is more than a century in the making.

Exhibits feature artifacts from the indigenous Wabanaki.
There are rooms dedicated to the grand hotels, steamships, and yachts that dotted this area.

And there are stories of life in summer cottages, and the Great Fire of 1947.

“It almost brings a tear to your eyes when you see it,” Theede said. “Bar Harbor has a fabulous history. So we just thought this would be the perfect place to keep it for the town, and for the citizens of Bar Harbor, and the island, and for all our visitors.”

“There are so many amazing treasures in the collections,” said Rapkievian. “So, just to think that things have survived all of the years, and we can show them off and learn from them. So it is a labor of love.”

Brechlin agrees.

“People can really soak it in,” he said. “Learn, understand, and celebrate what a special place this is.”

For more information or to purchase tickets to the museum, go to