Poland Spring Timeline
1794 Jabez Ricker swaps his property in Alfred, Maine (then Massachusetts) to the town’s Shaker community. The religious sect desired the property due to its mill power potential. Jabez moved his family to Bakerstown (as Poland was formerly known) on the property which was previously owned by Eliphaz Ring, a convert to the Shakers in nearby New Gloucester. Within a short time, two travelers looking for a place to stay knocked on the Ricker family door. Thus began the inn-keeping tradition which continues today.
1797 Wentworth, the son of Jabez, constructs and opens the Wentworth Ricker Inn, a stagecoach stop/inn which would later become known as the Mansion House. This building along with large stable would be home to Ricker family members for over 150 years.
1809 Hiram Ricker, the founder of Poland Spring Water and patriarch to the Ricker family for decades is born to Wentworth and Polly Ricker.
1834 Wentworth hands over the inn-keeping business to his 25 year old son Hiram.
1844 Hiram, who had been suffering from dyspepsia for a number of years, drank freely from a spring on the farm. After several days, he felt relived of his ailments and began to claim the spring had medicinal properties.
1845 Hiram Ricker began sharing his water with neighbors and people in the surrounding communities.
1859 Hiram Ricker begins making his first commercial sales of Poland Water. He also advertises the water and the Mansion House for the first time in the Brunswick Record Times.
1860 Dr. Eliphalet Clark a Portland physician begins prescribing Poland Water to patients for cures including Bright’s disease, kidney stones and other maladies.
1869 Hiram turns over the reins to is eldest son, Edward “E.P.” Ricker. E.P. oversees the enlargement of the Mansion House and ther additions to the property.
1875 Alvan “A.B.” Ricker joins his older brother in the firm, which was renamed Hiram Ricker and Sons. A.B. traditionally oversees the buying of food, the farms, kitchens and dining staff.
1876 The Poland Spring House is constructed atop Ricker Hill. The crown jewel of the resort, the summer hotel was open from June through October. Eventually the building would be able to accommodate over 350 guests and had its own dining and kitchen facilities, bowling alley, writing rooms, music hall and much more for the use by its guests.
The Moses bottle is also created to commemorate the opening of the hotel. This distinct glass bottle continues to be a prized collectors item.
1881 Hiram W. Ricker joins the family firm. Hiram would eventually be instrumental in forming the Maine Publicity Bureau (today the Maine Tourism Association), the Maine Automobile Association, the Maine Hotel Association and served on many commissions and boards in the state.
1883-1890 A series of enlargements and renovations to the Poland Spring House brought a number of new amenities to its guests. Several other buildings and recreational opportunities were created including a deer park, walking trails and game rooms.
1893 Hiram Ricker, patriarch of the family dies. Poland Water is exhibited at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The water receives a medal for its purity and potential medicinal properties.
1894 The Maine State Building, which was constructed by the state at the World’s Columbian Exposition, was purchased by the Ricker family. The granite, slate and wood structure was disassembled and transported by train to the grounds.
1895 The Maine State Building was officially dedicated. The building would serve as a library, museum and art gallery. The gallery was under the direction of the youngest child of Hiram and Janette Bolster Ricker, also known as Janette but commonly called Nettie.
1896 A nine hole golf course was constructed in July. Designed by Arthur Harris Fenn, the golf course was one of a handful in the state and one of the first 80 in the nation. Fenn was a well-known amateur champion golfer who’s brother-in-law was the head clerk at the Poland Spring House.
1898 Arthur Fenn becomes the Poland Spring golf professional in 1898 – at the same time becoming America’s first native born golf professional.
1900 Harry Vardon, possibly the greatest golfer of his time, plays Poland Spring on two occasions in August. Arthur Fenn and frequent golfing partner and competitor Alex Findlay beat Vardon in a best ball match.
1901 The Rickers buy the Bay Point Inn and rename it the Samoset. Remodeled and enlarged, the Rickers would operate the coastal hotel as well as the Mt. Kineo on Moosehead Lake in conjunction with Maine Central Railroad. This relationship would last a little over a decade.
The first automobile is driven on the property, signaling a change in the resort and tourism industry.
1904 Poland Water is exhibited at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis. It wins Grand Prize besting all the waters of the world.
1905 Canary Cottage (now known as the Roosevelt Cottage) is constructed. The building was built for use as a store, telephone company as well as offices for the Ricker brother’s secretaries.
1907 A new springhouse and bottling facility are constructed. Designed by Harry C. Wilkinson, the modern plant was built to ensure the highest quality of product for the consumers.
1909 The nine-hole course is moved to one side of what is now Preservation Way in order to accommodate the future construction of the All Souls Chapel. The official groundbreaking for the chapel is held in September by Garret A. Hobart III, grandson of the former vice-president under President McKinley.
1912 All Souls Chapel is officially opened as an interdenominational place of worship for guests and resort staff.
1913 The Riccar Inn is constructed. This is the last of the Ricker-built hotels on the property and the only that still stands today. Donald Ross is hired by the Rickers to design an expanded eighteen-hole golf course.
1915 The new Donald Ross 18-hole course is opened. A couple of years later it would be slightly altered by fellow World Golf Hall of Fame inductee, Walter Travis.
1918 Future 2nd wife of A.B. Ricker, Jane Jeffrey, an English-born American Red Cross nurse, is wounded when German airplanes bomb the hospital where she was stationed. For her actions, she received the Distinguished Service Cross, one of three female recipients during World War I.
A young but talented 16 year old Bobby Jones, plays golf matches in support of the Red Cross and lowers the amateur record.
1925 Longtime golf professional Arthur Fenn dies in Lewiston. His daughter, Bessie Fenn, takes over as golf professional for the season. Later that year, she applies for her father’s wintertime teaching position in Palm Beach and is selected. She is the first woman golf professional to be in charge of a club.
1928 Edward Payson Ricker, who had been leading the family business for almost six decades, dies.
1929 Amateur Eddie Held plays at Poland Spring and shoots a 62 on the 18-hole course, besting records previously set by Herb Lagerblade, Walter Hagan and Arthur Fenn. The 62 remains the course record at Poland Spring.
1930 Hiram Weston Ricker, the public face of Poland Spring in many areas, dies.
1933 The Ricker enterprise sells the use of its Moses Bottle to a gin company, following the repeal of Prohibition, in hopes of increasing their revenues during the Great Depression.
A.B. Ricker, the last of the three brothers dies.
1937 Due to lagging business, overwhelming debt and leadership succession problems, the business is reorganized under the leadership of Judge Fred Lancaster of Auburn. Charles W. Ricker, son of Hiram Weston Ricker would remain on the board of directors until the end of 1946.
During the period following, until 1962, the property was sold to various companies including National Fireworks and Apollo Industries. While many of the amenities were continued throughout this time period, years of deferred maintenance were taking its toll.
1962 After years of uncertainty and changing hands, Poland Spring is sold to Saul Feldman. Feldman immediately begins plans to expand and modernize the property.
1963 The Executive Inn/Poland Spring Inn, now known as the Maine Inn is opened. Complete with modern amenities it was constructed to replace the use of the Mansion House which over the preceding 160 years had been added onto but never completely modernized.
The television series, Route 66, conducts taping on the property. Scenes include the use of the Mansion House, Maine State Building, Stables, Campbell Cottage and others.
1965 When nearby Lewiston was selected as the host for the heavyweight championship bout between Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston, Poland Spring was used as training grounds for Liston. This match led to the debacle known as the Phantom Punch fight in which Ali beat Liston in only a little over 2 minutes. Other guests connected to the fight on the property at that time included Joe Louis and Robert Goulet.
The Poland Spring Caddy Camp which had been operated on the property since 1921 was closed.
1966 Poland Spring Resort became the site of the largest women’s training center for the newly created Job Corps program. Hundreds of women from impoverished areas in the country, came to the center to receive vocational training. The Poland Spring House and the other buildings on the property were used by the program.
1969 Operation of the Poland Spring Job Corps ceased.
1970 The Yogi Maharishi held a Transcendental Meditation (TM) Conference on the grounds. Over a 1,000 individuals stayed on the property and the Poland Spring House was used for the last time as a hotel.
1972 Saul Feldman leases the Maine Inn to Mel Robbins who was initially lured to Poland Spring to redevelop the property. He heard the “rustle of petticoats and wagon wheels” and fell in love with the beautiful grounds and rich heritage.
1973 Poland Spring Water is sold to Perrier.
1974 The Maine State Building is added to the National Register of Historic Places – the first building on the property to receive this designation.
1975 On July 3rd, fire destroys the former crown jewel, the Poland Spring House. Although the cause of the fire remains unknown, the building had fallen into disrepair but there was the promise of its restoration.
1976 The Poland Spring Preservation Society is formed as a 501(c)3 non-profit historic preservation organization.
1977 The All Souls Chapel is added to the National Register of Historic Places. The chapel and Maine State Building are given to the Poland Spring Preservation Society by Saul Feldman and Mel Robbins.
Perrier sells Poland Spring Water to Paul den Haene, who later builds a new modern plant on the edge of the property.
1980 Perrier re-acquires the Poland Spring Water brand from den Haene.
1982 Mel and Cyndi Robbins purchase Poland Spring Resort from Saul Feldman, after leasing the property for a decade.
1984 The Poland Spring Water springhouse and bottling facility are added to the National Register of Historic Places.
1993 The inaugural Maine Golf Hall of Fame banquet is held at Poland Spring. Inductees the first year include Poland Spring alumni, Arthur Fenn, Ernest Newnham and Alex Chisholm. Later inductees include Tony DeRocco, Ron LeClair, Dr. Leon Buck, Bessie Fenn and Hiram W. Ricker, Jr.
1995 The Maine State Building celebrates its centennial a part of the Town of Poland’s bicentennial programming reminiscent of the dedication of the building 100 years before.
1999 The former Bathhouse of the resort, now known as the Beach House is added to the National Register of Historic Places.
2002 Poland Spring Preservation Park is opened by the water company. A newly restored springhouse and former bottling facility, hiking trails and more are a part of the new facility.
2007 Mel Robbins, longtime owner of Poland Spring Resort dies after several years of health issues. His wife and business partner Cyndi, continues to operate the Resort and expands its offerings.
2008 Due to future widening of Route 26, the Maine Department of Transportation hires a consultant to research and document the property’s potential as a historical district.
2010 First golf professional in decades, Allan Menne, PGA, is hired.
2011 The Maine State Building becomes home to the Maine Golf Hall of Fame.
2012 The All Souls Chapel celebrates its centennial.
2013 On April 26th, the application of the Poland Spring Historical District is nominated by the Maine Historic Preservation Commission to be sent to the National Register of Historic Places. On August 13th, the Poland Spring Historical District is added to the National Register of Historic Places.
2014 Poland Spring Historic District Signage Program is unveiled. The first in a proposed three stage project to augment the historical character of the Town of Poland. The partnership brings together, two for-profit businesses, one non-profit and a municipality.
2020 celebrating Poland Spring Water 175 Anniversary