A hundred years ago the ability to afford a summer vacation in Maine was coming within reach of a growing middle class. The wealthy still enjoyed the amenities of grand hotel living at places like the Poland Spring Inn or the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, NH, where whole families took up residence in posh hotel suites for a month or two in the summer. The less affluent, however, could afford to take a room at a lakeside lodge, or rent a cabin affiliated with a lodge, where they could enjoy some of the amenities of their wealthier brethren in a decidedly more rustic setting.
During the first half of the 20th century many of the lakes in the Lakes Regions of Maine saw the construction of these lodges, often with accompanying housekeeping cottages or cabins. Vacationers "from away" would rent these places by the week, bring their families, and be able to enjoy, in a very direct sense, some of God's handiwork.
Activities at these lodges usually included fishing and hiking, swimming, canoeing and boating, horseshoes, and often times tennis and croquet. On a rainy day, patrons would gather in the main room of the lodge, where a fire would be going in the fireplace, and play board and card games, or just read. Meals were taken in the main dining room.
This type of summer lifestyle has pretty much gone the way of train travel and hula hoops. Much of the lakefront property has been sold and resold, cut up into smaller and smaller parcels where everyone builds their own place, whether it be a humble camp or a suburban home on the water.
Because of the tremendous rise in value of lakefront property the large lakefront areas these lodges often commanded made for an untenable business model. As property taxes kept going up and up, the lodge business needed to keep costs down to continue to attract patrons. Thus the demise of the summer lodge business.
But all is not lost. A few lodges remain. Several are up farther north where vacationers get away from it all by going to a remote lakeside lodge to relax and catch fish. Here in the Sebago Lake region we have Migis Lodge. Since 1916, Migis Lodge has welcomed guests to its lodge and cabins that occupy 125 acres and 3,500 feet of Sebago Lake shoreline. The facility is a walk back in time, but includes some modern day amenities.
I recently saw a short video about Migis Lodge that mixed some old black and white footage with more contemporary color scenes. It's alot of fun to watch and I was struck by how much things have stayed the same. It's a window to a world that few of us experience in this type of setting anymore. Click here to watch the video. Enjoy!