ELLSWORTH — “I have a plant for you,” a visitor told Nancy Mayo, general manager of the Eagle’s Lodge Motel.
The visitor was Frenchboro Town Clerk Ann Fernald, who would stay overnight at the motel with her husband, Arthur, when they came to town to grocery shop, Mayo recalled.
The plant was a begonia. And the begonia came from a cutting of Albert Einstein’s very own begonia, Fernald said.
“Hearsay says it’s Einstein’s begonia,” Mayo said. “Ann and Arthur brought it over on the ferry from Frenchboro, and it’s been here ever since.”
Arriving about four years ago, the begonia holds a corner spot in the motel lobby, where its leaves reach up toward the sunlight. But recently, night auditor Patricia Hiser spent some free time online researching to see if she could verify that the plant did, indeed, come from Einstein’s begonia.
“We take very good care of our plants,” Hiser told The American. “The begonia must be happy, as it is 3 feet tall or more.”
Hiser found information that pointed to a William & Mary student, Jeni, who wrote about the plant in 2012.
Einstein was born in Germany in 1879. The world-renowned theoretical physicist moved to Princeton in 1940, where he reportedly gave away cuttings as gifts to the physics or mathematics facility at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.
“But now they are also being circulated among a group residing in Princeton outside of the faculty,” Jeni wrote.
With Hiser’s research confirming what Ann Fernald told Mayo — that there were lots of cuttings from Einstein’s begonia floating around — it seems quite possible that the Eagle’s Lodge Motel begonia could very well come from Einstein’s original plant.
“It’s just amazing,” Mayo said. “We’ve had a lot of history with this place even though it’s only been open for 37 years. We have a lot of stories here in the motel.”
The American was unable to reach Fernald for additional information by press time.