Treasured Toilet

What will become of the crumbling commode at Seal Harbor Beach?


John D. Rockefeller Jr. bestowed many grand gifts upon Mount Desert Island, not least of which is much of the land that comprises Acadia National Park, as well as its nearly 60 miles of carriage roads and stone bridges. He saw to mankind’s humbler needs as well: A Palladian-style public toilet at Seal Harbor Beach in the town of Mount Desert is said to have been financed by Rockefeller and his Seal Harbor village neighbor, Edsel Ford, in 1921. “They were concerned that people were doing indecorous things in the bushes,” Seal Harbor resident Anne Funderburk, a great-granddaughter of industrialist and historian James Ford Rhodes, says drolly. “They felt there was a need for proper facilities to comport themselves.” Perfectionist that he was, JDR Jr. would not be pleased with the condition of the town-owned comfort station today. “There has been no electric service for 30 years, the grout is going, and the plaster is bubbling,” says Funderburk, a member of the Seal Harbor Village Improvement Association. A few weeks ago, Funderburk warned Mount Desert selectmen in her mid-Atlantic English that “a surge of indignation” would rise from Seal Harbor should they proceed with plans to tear down what may well be Maine’s “prettiest s—” . . .well, we promised not to repeat the term she used, but suffice it to say she got their attention. A professional building assessment has been ordered. 

By Virginia M. Wright
Photo courtesy of Mount Desert Islander