Where in Maine?
With its turrets and gables soaring over the surf, this old place looks like one of the grand Maine hotels of yore. The sort of seaside inn you might have checked into after Memorial Day, savored a summer of relaxation, and then returned to the city at the end of August with spirits rejuvenated. Where the curtains fluttered in the breeze and the rocking chairs on the porch were always occupied; where jackets were required for dinner and the social calendar was quickly filled. And that's exactly what this imposing place once was for a time. Welcome to the Ocean View Hotel (circa 1909). While turn-of-the-century castles like this are relatively rare now - most burned long ago - this graceful ghost of another era still lords it over a well-known resort community in southern Maine. Unfortunately for most of us, it's no longer a hotel, and you can't just wander up and rent a room. The Congregation of the Presentation of Mary, a Catholic order, has transformed the place into a retreat for "women and men of differing faith traditions who value time for reflection in the peaceful presence of a praying community." The site on which the center sits is certainly blessed - with remarkable views of the Great Pond out its side door and the Atlantic right out front. The uniqueness of this setting is what originally drew settlers to this area. Englishman Richard Vines spent the winter of 1618 here and logically called the spot Winter Harbor (but don't confuse this with the other Winter Harbor way Down East). A community was built here just twelve years after that, mostly fishermen, of course, and by 1636 there were at least three dozen families located in the neighborhood. Before the Revolution there were so many people on this stretch of coastline that the villages on either side of an important local river split, one becoming Pepperrellborough, the other taking its name from a town in Devonshire, England. Today this swanky neighborhood is arguably the most scenic part of a city of 21,000. With the sun shining and the lupines blooming and the waves lapping at the sparkling shore, it's easy to sing out in praise of the locale. Have you ever seen this beautiful basin or the building in the background? Have you ever stayed here? Send us a note if you can identify this sublime scene.