Coach Stop Inn of Bar Harbor, Maine
An Inn with an Interesting Past

By Robert Rousseau

Across the country buildings and homes are being put up at an alarming rate.  
Newer structures seem to prevail, even in places with old English and French
history like New England. If the natural course of events don’t tear a place
down along the way, humanity seems ready at every corner to do so on their
own.

But then you walk into
Coach Stop Inn of Bar Harbor, Maine, and suddenly
your vantage changes. Natalie Reynolds, co- owner of the inn with her husband
Jeff, say it best:

“I was stepping back two hundred years,” she said, referring to her initial
feeling entering the inn.  

And in essence she was correct –- she’d just meandered into a place that had
witnessed much of Bar Harbor’s history –- both good and bad –- since it was
built in 1804.  It’s the oldest establishment in the area, possibly even the oldest
house.  

A Coach Stop for Unsavory Patrons

Just outside of town, the Coach Stop’s breathtaking park-like grounds and
gardens make it stand out to motorists heading into Bar Harbor along Route 3,
but back in the early 1800's when it was coined the Halfway Tavern -- an actual
coach stop –- it was virtually the only housing visible to the sailors and
trailblazers frequenting the untamed northernmost portions of New England.  
Hardened patrons and booze were what the inn was about back then –- the stuff
of trouble.  Yet, the dwelling survived those formative years.

During the War of 1812 and the battles surrounding
it, many residents and settlers suffered greatly.  
Beyond the warring French, English, and Indians,
the Brits were also coercing many residents into
paying hefty ransoms to the king by threatening
to burn their property if they failed to do so
(leading to some guerrilla tactics on the part
of those residing in Bar Harbor -- then called Eden).  

Unfortunately, the thriving lumbering, fishing,
and ship- building industries of the area were
interrupted by this and the English Navy’s presence in the harbor, which in
turn sent the area into a depression of sorts (farming by itself was difficult due
to the rocky landscape). Eden (soon to be Bar Harbor), suffered some hard
times in the early to mid 1800's for sure.

Despite the battles and hardships, the dwelling lived on.

Playground for the Rich & Famous

There were good times ahead, and no doubt what would eventually become
Coach Stop Inn experienced them, but these were interrupted by The Great Fire
of 1947.

By then Bar Harbor had morphed into a playground for the rich. Names like
Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, and Ford came in and built million dollar homes,
leading to of stretch of wealth that was then termed “Millionaire’s Row.”  
Estimates indicate that 17,000 acres and more than half of “Millionaire’s Row,”
was destroyed by the ten day highly irregular path of that mid 1900's blaze.  

Yet the fire’s path was regular enough to skip the inn.

Like anywhere else, Coach Stop Inn and its 1.5 acres went through good and
bad times (not even mentioned was a barn fire on premise that rumor has it was
maliciously started). The difference is, this structure survived to tell about it.  
Actually it’s done more than survive –- it’s bloomed like a beautiful rose.  

Today: Maine Hospitality and...Hauntings?

“We’ve given a lot of love to the place,”
Natalie says, since they took over the inn
less than two years ago. Together, she
and Jeff changed and manicured
the landscape -- keeping, of course,
the well placed 200 year old apple trees –-
and updated the interior without losing
the house’s essence. The parlor
and kitchen are beautifully decorated,
with little touches everywhere, as are
all the rooms (the rooms are named,
spacious, and well-equipped with
queen beds, air conditioning, and private baths).  

The union between family and house couldn’t be more true (Jeff and Natalie
live on premise unlike many innkeepers).  There’s a clear, seemingly
unbreakable bond between this house that survived against the odds and this
young couple whose business flourished even when others warned them
against taking on a bed and breakfast.   

So what can one expect at Coach Stop Inn now?  

“Hospitality,” Jeff Reynolds, an experienced chef, says in a word.  But expect
more than that.  For example, each morning guests feast on a three course
gourmet breakfast.  How about blueberry fritters (their signature dish),
followed by a fruit and yogurt parfait (the fruit changes everyday), Eggs
Tuscany with fresh Roma Tomatoes, Seared Polenta Cake, Poached Eggs,
sauteed Garlic Shrimp, and a pesto cream sauce?  In fact, the food is so good
that The Food Network recently filmed at the inn.  They’re slated for Emmeril
Live in January 2007, a dream for any chef.

Can’t get any more intriguing than that, can it?  Wrong.

There’s also the strange occurrences.  The lights sometimes flicker and voices–
though faint and somewhat rare –- have been heard.  Children’s voices.  Jeff and
Natalie have nicknamed the main occurrence Abbe as most of the unexplained
instances seem to happen in the Abbe room.  As Jeff puts it, “People will come
downstairs and go back up and their doors will be locked.”  And Natalie, “We
had another guy, he brought his clothes into the bathroom, got out (of the
shower), and they (the clothes) were on his bed.”

All playful things, perhaps explainable, perhaps not.  But one thing is for sure.  
If spirits live on in the Coach Stop Inn they seem to be as happy as the owners
and patrons.  This house is thriving now, bringing people in for its quaint
charm, history, friendly owners, and of course, the food.  It’s almost as if the
house knew that its future couldn’t have been brighter, and that’s what kept it
going all those years.  It took in the good, ignored the bad.

If you’re an adult that loves history, food, and a warm, friendly atmosphere,
Coach Stop Inn is for you.  Just ask all of the returning guests and the writer of
this article (a frequent New England vacationer).   
Click here to visit the Coach
Stop Inn's Web site.

Check out the inn's Blueberry Fritters Recipe!

About the author: Robert Rousseau's work has regularly found its way into hosts of
publications including ByLine Magazine, ExtremeProSports.com, MMAFighting.com,
ReadingChair.com, and RealFootball365.com.  When he's not writing, he's either
working as a human services professional or traveling throughout New England.   
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Hardened patrons
and booze were
what the inn was
about back then –-
the stuff of trouble.
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