The Mansion House ca. 1910

The Mansion House

Having settled on their new property in Poland Spring, the Ricker family wasted little time establishing themselves as Innkeepers, offering rest and nourishment to travelers along the newly built highway to Portland.

The Wentworth Ricker Inn, 1797
(Illustrated History of Poland Spring, ca. 1914)

Mansion House Room Key & Fob

"This building was started late in 1794, but building in those days was very different from modern methods. All the lumber had to be cut, hewn, shaved and sawed by hand into various required forms. Every nail must be forged by hand, and the bricks were made in a kiln constructed near the present ice house about a mile distant."
(Pamphlet, Mansion House, ca. 1913)

"Joseph Ricker was the first blacksmith in town and made all the nails used in building the Mansion House, which was opened by Wentworth Ricker, the father of Hiram Ricker, in 1797, when the first sign was swung with the words "Wentworth Ricker, 1797."
(Illustrated History of Poland Spring, ca. 1914)

"The house had four large rooms on the ground floor and four on the second. There were two large stacks of chimneys, four foot at the top, with two large fireplaces in each chimney on the first floor. Each fireplace took logs four feet in length. There were also four smaller, yet good sized, fireplaces on the second floor. Bricks for the chimneys were made on the pond shore about one mile from the house. There were at least 12,000 each laid up with clay mortar."

The Wentworth Ricker Inn, 1875
(Illustrated History of Poland Spring, ca. 1914)

Mansion House ca. 1890
(Souvenir of Poland Spring and Hotels, ca. 1886)

Mansion House 1890 floorplans

(Flyer, Mansion House, 1899)

"The original house had slight changes for more than 60 years, through Wentworth's day and most of his son Hiram's. The hospitality of the landlord host met the travelers at the door and within they were greeted with comfort and good cheer. Wentworth was the first landlord in Maine to stop the sale of hard liquor. This was carried through most of the Ricker management."
(Poland Past and Present, 1795-1970)

"The Wentworth Ricker Inn soon became a popular post and relay station, for it was on the shortest route from Portland to Montreal, and many interesting stories are remembered of the early rivalry between Boston and Portland in their effort to secure the English mail boats bearing Canadian mail; and hot indeed must have been the contests which sent stages thundering over this road to establish the shorter time and secure this most-coveted prize."

"From this time until 1834, when Wentworth Ricker turned the management of the property to his son, Hiram Ricker, the Tavern was constantly growing more successful. In 1869, Hiram Ricker turned over the management to his eldest son, Edward Payson Ricker, under the name of Hiram Ricker & Son, when the first addition to the Mansion House was commenced and opened by 1870."

"By 1875 the Mansion House had again become inadequate in size, and Alvan Bolster Ricker, the second son, was taken into the firm, and the same year the erection of the Poland Spring House was commenced, and opened in 1876.  In 1881, Hiram Weston Ricker, the third son, became an active member of the firm, and in 1883 both houses had to be enlarged."

"The Mansion House was not again enlarged until 1898 at which time it was practically remodeled. During all these years, and the years that followed, a constant improvement was being made in plumbing, heating, lighting, etc. and at the time of the last addition...the Mansion House was...absolutely modern, perfectly hygienic and luxurious in its equipment and furnishings."

Parlor, Mansion House ca. 1905
(Pamphlet, The Mansion House, 1905)

Office, Mansion House ca. 1910

Mansion House ca. 1910

Mansion House, 1906
(Postcard, postmarked Portland, ME, Aug-22-1907)

Mansion House 1905 floorplans

Floor 1 - Floor 2 - Floor 3 - Floor 4
(Pamphlet, The Mansion House, 1905)

The Mansion House in Winter

"Year after year various additions and improvements have been made...the last made in 1905-6, which is by far the most important undertaken in recent years. This addition consists of a 4-story modern structure, separated from the older house by a heavy fireproof wall. All the guests' rooms...are outside rooms facing east, south, and west. Nearly all these rooms are arranged with private baths, while all, including those in the original structure, are equipped with steam heat, electric lights, etc., and furnished in excellent taste."

"Another interesting detail of this new construction is the fact that a model kitchen, a power and heating station, and a laundry building have been erected, each separate and distinct from the other, thus insuring the maximum of safety and the minimum of noise."

"Notwithstanding all the pleasures of summer life at Poland Spring, the Mansion House is in the height of its charm in the fall and winter, and the rapidly growing popularity of the winter here is largely the cause for the recent additions and improvements. During the glorious transition of autumn, when it seems almost incredible that any lover of nature can leave this garden spot, the Mansion House is filled, and after winter has put on its immaculate cloak, the atmosphere of the Mansion House grows gayest of all." 

"The House is perfectly heated, and its service is maintained as in the height of summer. The verandas are enclosed in glass and lined with rose trees, tropical plants and flowers, and are transformed into a great sun parlor and promenade."

Mansion House Dining Room
(Pamphlet, Mansion House, ca. 1913)

"The first floor contains the new dining hall, a great room of golden buff and ivory, enclosed on three sides by large plate glass windows. It covers nearly five thousand square feet of floor space, and is entirely free from obstructing supports of any kind. It's westward outlook is over a great broad veranda which mellows the summer sun and in winter, being enclosed and heated, resembles a bower in some great conservatory."
(Pamphlet, Mansion House, ca. 1913)

(click on image to play music)

On Washington's Birthday, February 22, 1915, H.C. Hobbs dedicated his musical composition Mansion House March to the Mansion House, Poland Spring, Maine.

Sonny Liston training in the
Mansion House dining room.
In 1965, World Heavyweight Champion Mohamed Ali (formerly known as Cassius Clay) and his challenger, Sonny Liston, trained at Poland Spring in preparation for their boxing match in Lewiston, Maine.  In this controversial and hotly debated re-match Ali knocked out Liston in the first round with a "phantom punch" which prompted rumors of a "fix".

"Liston trained at the Poland Springs Inn complex a few miles outside of Lewiston. This had been an elegant hotel at the turn of the century, been neglected for a time and then become a nun's retreat. It housed the pure spring water that became a commercial hit at just about that time. The hotel building fronted a golf course on which Liston did his road work. One morning as I came out on the veranda I saw the huge trudging figure of Liston accompanied by two marshalls coming out of the mist
at the end of his run.
(The 1969 Chronicles: A Sports Writer's Notes, by Stan Isaacs)

Sun Veranda in Winter
Mansion House, 1906
(Pamphlet, Mansion House, 1913)
The Mansion House suffered the same decline as the Poland Spring House, and stood empty in 1975 when her sister hotel burned. Demolition had begun on the Mansion House for salvage when it, too, met a fiery end in 1978. 

"Demolition work on the structure had been underway for almost two years and the building was  nearly two-thirds demolished prior to Monday night's fire. The original inn constructed on Poland Spring hill in the revolutionary era was leveled by the fire."
(Poland Bicentennial, 1995, p. 97)

Mansion House & Stables ca. 1900
(Postcard, postmarked Mechanic Falls, ME,

Off for a Snow-Shoe Tramp at Poland Spring
(Postcard, postmarked South Poland, ME, Nov-17-1911)

Mansion House Entrance
(Pamphlet, Mansion House, ca. 1913)

Brian Harris