Watchtide by the Sea (College Club Inn), Maine

The College Club Inn (now known as Watchtide by the Sea) is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for the manner inwhich it reflects the proliferation of road side accommodations in early twentieth century Maine,and in particular the conversion of eighteenth and nineteenth century farmsteads for this use. The College Club Inn is located along Route 1, the state’s principal highway corridor, this is the coastal route that extended eastward from Maine’s border with New Hampshire. The development of road side facilities for auto tourist witnessed explosive growth in the early twentieth century, especially after World War I. Automobile guide books, promotional materials and annual editions of the Maine Register illustrate the continuous rise of road side service stations, motor courts, inns and restaurants along the corridor. Over one hundred extant historic motor courts recently identified are evidence of this proliferation. The practice of converting eighteenth and nineteenth century residential buildings into inns and restaurants to accommodate tourists appears to be widespread throughout Maine. The College Club Inn is a property that illustrates this pattern of reuse. The College Club Inn is a one and a half story, five bay frame cape with a front porch which is linked to a two story barn by a one story wing. Interior remnants of Greek Revival style, common to early nineteenth century New England style tradition houses, are visible the two rooms off of the central hall. The house also exhibits details of the Federal or Adam style with the fanlights and porch. The wing links the cape to the barn, the barn is oriented toward Route 1, gable end facing the road. The complex was built around 1800 as a single family residence and was converted in the first quarter of the century to a tea room and inn catering to automobile tourists. The early history of the house is not well known. It was acquired by George Pettee in 1902 as a summer house. Family oral history indicates that in 1917, his daughter a graduate of Wellesley College opened a tea room. The 1921Automobile Blue Book carries an advertisement which advises the motorist to “Make Advance Reservations, if possible, for over night accommodations.

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