The Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 did not just celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus arriving in the New World, but it also sparked the future success of Poland Spring water. Hiram Ricker’s Poland Spring water had already been a success, but after winning awards at the 1893 World’s Fair he returned home and purchased the Maine State Building that was featured at the fair. The building had to be dismantled in Chicago and transported to Maine via rail and reassembled where it still stands today. Ricker went on to open a golf course, bottling plant, springhouse, and the Poland Spring House which unfortunately burned down in 1975.
After the Poland Spring House burned down the Maine State Building and All Souls Chapel were donated to the Preservation Society and in 1982 Mel and Cyndi Robbins purchased the property and have maintained and preserved it since then.
For visitors to the property, the Maine State Building, Poland Spring Bottling Plant and Springhouse, and the All Souls Chapel are all available to tour and are filled with rich history. The Maine State Building was made entirely with materials from Maine to highlight the quality of resources and craftsmanship Maine has to offer. If the beautiful craftsmanship, wealth of history, and art museum are not enough, the Maine State Building is also the last remaining state building from the World’s Fair.
Adjacent to the bottling plant is a small building that houses a spring called the Source. At the Source, chapel coordinator Kate MacGregor explained that “visitors would come to relax and wait for an attendant who would come with a sterling silver ladle and a crystal cup to give you your free sample” because “the Ricker family wanted people to know how sacred this water really was”. Inside the bottling plant one can see that the Ricker family got that message across. A wall of pictures shows various presidents and celebrities like Mae West and Frank Sinatra endorsing and enjoying Poland Spring water and the resort.
Like the Maine State Building, the All Souls Chapel reveals a high quality of craftsmanship and materials and to this day showcases oak walls, hand laid mosaic floors, painted glass windows and a 1926 Pipe Organ that continues to play beautifully at weddings that take place in the chapel.
The buildings and resort are enjoyed to this day as a site for weddings, concerts, golfing, and for the art gallery. Those who are interested can contact the society for more information about using the facilities. You can also support the Preservation Society by becoming a member or simply by visiting and showing your support for the location and its rich history.
The Poland Spring Preservation Society is open from Memorial Day through Columbus Day weekend on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The Society is a non-profit 501© 3 organization and is dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of the Maine State Building and the All Souls Chapel, as well as providing educational programming for school children and the general public.