Urban Retreat

whats-in-a-picture

Ganneston Park on Howard Hill

The tree house is long gone and much of the forest has fallen to subdivisions, but a 164-acre preserve being created by the Kennebec Land Trust (KLT) promises to revive Howard Hill as an urban wilderness retreat.
(Photo courtesy of Genie Gannett.)

Wilderness escape” is not a phrase typically associated with Augusta, Maine’s capital city of strip malls and dysfunctional roadways, but turn-of-the-20th-century Augustans didn’t have to travel far to recharge their batteries. They took to the carriage paths of Ganneston Park on Howard Hill, a 450-acre manicured forest in the State House’s backyard, created by publishing magnate William Howard Gannett. Among the park’s pleasures: this cliffside House in the Trees, with its splendid views of the copper-domed State House and the Kennebec River. Today, the tree house is long gone — Gannett removed it because it was repeatedly vandalized — and much of the forest has fallen to subdivisions, but a 164-acre preserve being created by the Kennebec Land Trust (KLT) promises to revive Howard Hill as an urban wilderness retreat. The project has not been without controversy: to help pay off its loan for the $1 million land purchase, the KLT is using $337,500 in Land for Maine’s Future funds, part of a voter-approved $11.5 million in bonds that Governor Paul LePage only recently agreed to release after a nine-month dispute with the state legislature. (Our suggestion? Allocate funds for tree house restoration!)

See more North by East stories!


Magazine of Maine, Maine Restaurants, Maine Food, Down East Magazine

Get our latest stories plus online exclusives every week. Subscribe to the Down East Extra email.
Email*


Virginia Wright

Virginia M. Wright is the senior editor at Down East.