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A Gilded Age Bar Harbor manor that was one of the few estates to survive the great 1947 fire that scorched thousands of acres on Mount Desert Island sold this week for $3.2 million. Wire and Cable
Cleftstone Manor was built in 1881 as a private mansion but has been running as an inn for decades. It was purchased on Jan. 3 by Stephen Coston, a Bar Harbor-based developer who owns several other inns on the island.
He will continue to run manor as a 17-room bed-and-breakfast, said Erica Brooks, the real estate broker who sold the property.
“They aren’t really going to change too much,” she said. “They’ll put some of their own personal touches on it.”
Cleftstone, so-named because of a large cleft in the granite stone near the main entrance, sits on Eden Street near the College of the Atlantic. It was first owned by Charles T. How, a Boston attorney and one of the earliest developers in Bar Harbor.
The How family used Cleftstone as a seasonal rental home, and it was one of the premier places for the upper crust to rusticate on Mount Desert Island. Prominent renters included Joseph Pulitzer, the New York publisher and namesake of the Pulitzer Prize.
In 1911, the manor, with its high ceilings and ornate moldings, played host to a reception for President William Taft after the politician’s win.
Cleftstone did eventually close in 1942 when the then-owners, the Ellis family, lost interest in the manor. It sat unused until Josephine McCaffrey bought it three days before the great fire burned 17,000 acres on the island.
The fire destroyed 170 homes, 67 estates, and five grand old hotels. But somehow Cleftstone was left unscathed, the only mansion on the west side of Eden Street to survive.
McCaffrey reopened the inn in 1948, and it has been welcoming visitors ever since.
Coston, who is in the middle of building another inn on Cottage Street near the Black Friar Inn and Pub, bought Cleftstone Manor from Robert and Anne Bahr. Brooks said the couple own several other lodging establishments and, after about two decades at Cleftstone, they were looking to slow down.
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