The Sieur de Monts Spring House in Acadia

Sieur de Monts Spring

The Sieur de Monts Spring plays a significant role in the history of Acadia National Park. George B. Dorr, a private citizen who lived in the late 1800's and early 1900's, was a major contributor to the park's conception and creation through his vision and passion to preserve and protect the natural beauty of Mount Desert Island. In a symbolic sense, it can be said that the birth of Acadia National Park took place in this very spot over a century ago.

Sieur de Monts & Nature Center GPS: 44.362097; -68.207830

Origin of Name

Sieur de Monts Spring got its name from Pierre Du Gua de Monts, an early 1600's Lieutenant Governor of New France who was commissioned by King Henry IV in 1603. The King directed Sieur de Monts “to establish the name, power, and authority of the King of France; to summon the natives to a knowledge of the Christian religion; to people, cultivate, and settle the said lands; to make explorations and especially to seek out mines of precious metals.” At that time, Lieutenant Governor Sieur de Monts had authority over all of North America between the 40th and 46th parallels (from Montreal to present day Philadelphia).

Sieur de Monts Spring House in Acadia National Park
Acadia Nature Center at Sieur de Monts Spring

George B. Dorr

As the first superintendent of Acadia, George B. Dorr built the Spring House over the spring in 1909 and carved “The Sweet Waters of Acadia” on a nearby rock. Today, this location has come to symbolize the enthusiasm and contributions of Dorr and other early twentieth century citizens in the creation and preservation of Acadia National Park. The spring is open year round and is located at the Sieur de Monts Spring, 2 miles south of Bar Harbor near the intersection of the Park Loop Road and Route 3 on Mount Desert Island. There is no entrance fee required.

What is Here?

When you first drive into the parking area, it may not seem like much. But trust me, when you get out and start your walk on the pathways, a magical world unfolds which not only includes the Wild Gardens of Acadia, but the Abbe Museum and the Nature Center (located in the brown building that you see in the picture to the left). There are also some gorgeous hiking trails in this area such as Jesup Trail, which if take, will lead you into the Bar Harbor business district. The Island Explorer Shuttle Bus has a pickup and drop-off point in the Nature Center parking lot as well as at the Village Green in Bar Harbor.

Acadia Nature Center Parking Area
Location map for Sieur de Monts Spring

Function of Spring House

The main function of a spring house (or, springhouse) was not to protect the cleanliness of the spring water. Prior to refrigerators, people had to be very resourceful in creating ways to keep perishables from spoiling. Since water from underground springs and brooks is often much cooler than above-ground temperatures during the summer months, building a small building over an open spring or brook captured this cooler air temperature thereby creating an ideal environment to store foods like meat, fruit, and dairy products in order to keep them cool and fresh.

Sieur de Monts Nature Center
Open May through early October • Closed early October (on or after Columbus Day) through April

May: Open weekends only, hours vary
June: 9:00 am - 5:00 PM
July & August: 9:00 am - 5:00 PM
September to early October: 9:00 am - 4:00 PM

Hallowed Ground

Greg A. Hartford, photographer, author, publisherThe Sieur de Monts Spring House, and the nearby rock where George B. Dorr carved “The Sweet Waters of Acadia,” is near hallowed ground to lovers of this National Park. Knowing a bit about the park’s formation, and the dedication of people like Dorr, add much depth to the understanding of the blood, sweat, and tears of those who lived before us, who were instrumental in the realization of this national monument. This place warrants respect, and moments of silence during which we all reflect upon the lives that gave breath to Acadia National Park. To those who lived before me, those alive now, and to those yet to come, I thank you.