The Kitchen at Poland Spring
(Pamphlet, Poland Spring and About There, 1903)

The Poland Creamery
(Pamphlet, Poland Spring and About There, 1903)

The Dining Room
at the Poland Spring House
(Pamphlet, Poland Spring House, 1908)

Hogs for the Poland Spring House
(Real Photo Postcard)

The Cuisine is, we feel free to say, because of the unvarying terms of praise accorded it, without a peer."
(Pamphlet, Poland Spring House, 1904)

"The kitchen is very commodious, well lighted and perfectly ventilated - a model of its kind - and guests are invited to apply at the Office at any hour of the day for a guide to conduct them through this department."
(Pamphlet, Poland Spring House, 1906)

In the inspection of the kitchen at the busy diner hour, the military precision and absence of confusion among the waiters and the kitchen help, suggested the the chef possesses the qualities of the general in an eminent degree.  The ladies of the party confirmed the impressions of those members who have a bacteriological twist that the kitchen of the Poland Spring House is no place to hunt for a microbe."
(The Sanitary Inspector, Vol X, No 3, June 1897)

"The original homestead, which occupied about 350 acres, has now been increased to over ten times that area, whereon the farms and gardens, the model barns, the fancy herds of thoroughbred Jerseys, Guernseys and Ayrshires, and the Dairy maintained at the highest possible standards to provide the tables at the Poland Spring House and Mansion House. Through their excellence of service, the cuisines of these hotels have attained an enviable reputation."
(Pamphlet, Mansion House, ca. 1913)

"The corps of [kitchen] employees is under the active personal attention of Mr. Alvan B. Ricker, and guests are at liberty to enter at all times and watch the ever-interesting process of preparing and serving an elaborate menu."
(Poland Water Book, ca. 1905)

"A 500-acre farm and a 125-acre kitchen garden supplied produce to the hotel. Peas alone occupied 5 acres, and the farm and garden also had 3,000 tomato plants and grew cucumbers, cabbage, beets, lettuce, Swiss chard, and radishes by the ton. A hotel dairy farm kept 100 milk cows as well as other herds. Additionally, the hotel purchased produce from Shaker farms in the vicinity. The Shakers kept Rhode Island Red hens, which supplied eggs and poultry, and they also raised 250 hogs for the hotel."
(Poland Water Book, ca. 1905)

Poland Spring House Menu Cover
Sunday, Sept. 28, 1884
Look Inside

Meals at the Poland Spring House were a lavish affair, comprised of numerous courses as was the custom of the day. The menu for Sunday, September 28, 1884 offers the following choices: 3 Soups, Fish, 3 Boiled Meats, 5 Roasts, 4 Cold Dishes, 4 Entrees, 10 Vegetables, 11 Relishes, 4 Pastries, 12 Desserts, plus Tea and Coffee. (!) 

Meals were served as a "Table-d'Hote", a set menu at a set price. Breakfast was served from 7:00 to 9:00, Dinner from 1:00 to 2:30, and Tea from 6:00 to 8:00. Children and servants were served Breakfast at 8:30, Dinner at 12:00, and Tea at 5:30. Sundays were evidently more leisurely at Poland Spring, with Breakfast from 8:00 to 9:30 and Dinner from 1:30 to 3:00. 

Poland Spring Centennial Dinner
Monday, July. 1, 1895
Look Inside

The Dining Room
at the Poland Spring House, ca. 1900

" Mr. Ricker also purchases the supplies for [the kitchen] department, and nothing reaches even the first stage of preparation without first passing his personal inspection; in the markets of New York and Boston, where supplies are purchased, the name Ricker is never associated except with the VERY BEST of everything.  To give some slight idea of what an enormous amount of the finest quality of table supplies is necessary, what an amount of time is involved, and what a large force of cooks, carvers, etc., are required, we append the exact quantity of the principal foods consumed in a single average summer's week :

8,000 pounds of meat and fish 55 pounds of tea 10 bunches bananas
19 barrels of flour 2,200 quarts of milk 150 pounds coffee
24 boxes of fruit 10,000 eggs 700 quarts thick cream
16 barrels cantaloupes 25 bushels berries 2,000 pounds sugar

(Poland Water Book, ca. 1905)

"Guests having friends to dinner will please give notice at the office."

"Meals, Lunches, and Fruit sent to rooms, charged extra."
(Menu, Sunday, September 28, 1884)

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Leaded Glass Transom Window
(from the Dining Room, Poland Spring House)

"The Poland Spring House dining room offered a grand setting for the lovely gowns in the early 1900's.   The Ricker family table was the first one on the right of the entrance.  This gave...a fine view of the gowns of silk, taffeta,
and chiffon in gorgeous colors and shades.  They were lavishly trimmed in exquisite laces, and many had long trains.  The length of the dining room, and the carpeted runner, provided the perfect backdrop for the display of
these lovely creations.  Some ladies...specifically requested tables at the end
of the dining room, in order that they might display their finery, elegantly strolling down the full length of the dining room."

(Poland Spring Remembered - Recollections of Catherine Lewis Lennihan, 1988)

Poland Spring Dining Room
China Pattern

Poland Spring Dining Room

Meals were served on custom-made ironstone china sporting the Poland Spring name and the Ricker Family crest. This china was made in a dizzying variety of sizes and shapes ranging from tiny demitasse cups and saucers, to large round and oval plates for meat and fish courses. Five different sizes of round plates (5", 6", 7", 8" and 9") were used.  

Over the years, more china was needed, presumably to replace broken items or simply to serve the growing numbers of visitors to the hotel. Several different manufacturers were called upon to produce the china, including Syracuse China, Morris Gordon & Sons, Inc, and McNichol China. 

The silverware was Reed & Barton Triplex silver plate, with "Poland Spring" engraved on each piece. Coffee was served in silver-plated pots with matching sugar bowls and creamers, and the ubiquitous Poland Water was served from bottles in specially designed holders.

Luncheon Menu
September 14, 1929

"Before the Moses bottle was used for the Poland Spring Water, [Nettie Ricker] designed a triangular, etched glass carafe for serving the water in
the dining rooms.  Because of its unusual shape, it was quite fragile.  It had pictures of three of the Poland Spring buildings on the three sides, and a cow's head on the top of the stopper."

(Poland Spring Remembered - Recollections of Catherine Lewis Lennihan, 1988)

Spendiferous Buffet in the Colonnade Room at Poland Spring, ca. 1950

Holiday Dinner Menu Cover
Thursday, July. 4, 1957
Look Inside

"The help ate in a separate dining room, and records from the era show two food standards, according to historian George Ricker's wife Rose. 'There
was guest butter and there was help butter, for example,' she explains.
'There was help coffee and guest coffee, which cost twice as much.' "

(Down East Magazine, 1992

"Many of the waitresses were students from Bates College...Bates, Bowdoin, and Brown college men...were bell boys."
(Poland Spring Remembered - Recollections of Catherine Lewis Lennihan, 1988)

"Maine was a dry state in those days and so was the Poland Spring House, but records show purchases of brandy (at fifty cents a gallon), sherry, and wine, presumably for cooking purposes. The management's attitude toward guests who brought their potables with them from wet states was not
officially stated. Rose Ricker notes that 'Aunt Nettie' Ricker, one of Hiram's three daughters, and a strict teetotaler, lived in the Mansion House,
and refused to enter the Poland Spring House because of the presence of alcohol."

(Down East Magazine, 1992)

On holidays and other special occasions, elaborately printed menus added to the festivity the meals. 

"Dining service in those days was exceptional, and a formal inspection opened the meal times, as the waitresses passed in review (to music) before
the Maitre 'd.  Like a well trained regiment their drill was  executed before they took their stations.  The grand old days included meals that would stagger the imagination, to say nothing of one's cholesterol count."
(The Moses Bottle, 1969, p.18)

Poland Spring House Dinner Menu
Saturday, Sept. 11, 1954

Little had changed even as late as the 1950's, when the menu was even more extensive, offering both hot and cold service. Highlights of the hot choices included Cream of Asparagus Soup, Baked Filet of Whitefish Creole en Ramequin, Fresh Maine Lobster a la Newburg en Casserole, and Breast of Vermont Turkey Supreme. One wonders how many guests availed themselves of the Pickled Lamb's Tongue on the cold service.

Here's a selection of other menus through the years:

Holiday Dinner Menu
Mansion House
Sunday, July. 4, 1926

Poland Spring House


Poland Spring House

August 27, 1899

Poland Spring House

September 10, 1909

Poland Spring House

October 6, 1912

Poland Spring House

August 14 , 1925

Poland Spring House

July 14 , 1932

The Mansion House

September 15 , 1912

The Mansion House
Lincoln's Birthday

February 12 , 1922

The Mansion House
Washington's Birthday

February 22 , 1927

The Mansion House

August 16 , 1948

Brian Harris