A sad day for Ellsworth

Dear Editor:

When some of the wealthier summer inhabitants on Mount Desert Island saw the beautiful mountains threatened by the portable saw mills they established the Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations to protect and preserve these scenic wonders. Once the land was acquired, the trustees freely gave these lands to the federal government for the public to enjoy — a most noble act. Thus Acadia National Park was formed.

George Nixon Black wanted his ancestral summer home to memorialize Col. John Black and Gen. David Cobb, so he willed his home, land and buildings to the city of Ellsworth. Later realizing the city was not fiscally able to accept this responsibility and seeing the success of the trustees on Mount Desert Island, he transferred his home to them even though their sole purpose was land acquisitions.

The trustees accepted this responsibility and have maintained this property under the guidance of Richard Hale and Erma Eliason. Recently the trustees were presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restore the property to nearly its original size of 300 acres. Incidentally, there was in the Black House a watercolor drawing by John Black of his land reaching down the river. The acquisition of the John Black Jr., Philip Lovell and Helen Dudman house and the land down to the Union River was available and the purchase had been recommended to the trustees. It was offered just prior to the sale but was surprisingly denied by the board.

By fulfilling the purposes and intent of the HCTPR by acquiring the John Black Jr. (Dudman) property, it would have allowed the modern educational plans and building to be located on this newly acquired land. More importantly, it would have prevented the destruction, alteration or relocation of structures on the site donated by George Nixon Black and also prevented the disregard of the purposes and protection granted by the National Register of Historic Places.

Trustee responsibilities are clearly defined. They must not violate the historical integrity of George Nixon Black’s gift and should have made every possible effort to acquire the Dudman land according to their incorporated purpose as was exemplified by Acadia. This would have allowed the proposed educational facility to have been near but separate from the historic 19th century site that we all grew up admiring along with the thousands of visitors from across the country. With millions to spend, the board can do as it wishes. There are no restrictions other than the Black House legacy, which they are egregiously ignoring. Judge Edwin Smith, who I believe was a Trustee, once told me: The King can do no wrong.”

Stanley Richmond


Former Director of Woodlawn

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