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History of Stage Neck Inn

New England is rich in History and no town better exemplifies the triumphs, trials, and tribulations of its pioneers, settlers, and citizens quite like York Harbor, Maine.

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In colonial times, fish were dried and salted in order to preserve them for use through the long winters and for transport and sale to inland communities. This process was done on long tables called “stages” which were built out in the open areas near the sea, away from towns and villages because of the pungent odor of the fish.

In the early days of York, Stage Neck Inn’s site was an island at the mouth of the river and was held as common land. Its location was ideally situated next to a protected harbor and well down-stream from the colonial village of York. A causeway was built across the shallow eastern branch of the river to connect Stage Island to the mainland. The Harbor Beach was created by building the swimming pond and then bringing in beach stone, it was then that the island became known as “Stage Neck”.

Before Sewall’s Bridge was opened to traffic in 1761, the trail from Wells to Kittery followed close to the shoreline coming through York Harbor (then known as the “Lower Town”) across the causeway and around the northwesterly side of Stage Neck to a ferry landing near the narrow part of the channel. If you walk past the new docks, you can still find traces of the old roadway, where the ledge was hammered away.

During the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, a fort was maintained on Stage Neck in front of the Inn’s Shearwater dining room. Below water level in the pond, just under the ledge, parts of the foundation of the fort still remain. This section of Stage Neck has hence become known as “the Point”. At one time, the Point was designated as a public execution ground and gallows were erected. Some local histories refer to it as “Gallows Point”, although a native American woman was the only person to meet her fate here.

During the first part of the nineteenth century, Stage Neck was home to several of the area’s poorer fishing families. It remained such until 1871 when Nathaniel Grant Marshall acquired the entire neck.

He removed the fish shanty homes and built the first hotel here, named “Marshall House”. This started the harbor area’s revolution into a fashionable summer resort. In 1881, Mr. Marshall doubled the size of his hotel to accommodate the ever-increasing summer visitors from Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Providence, and Boston.

In January 1916, fire struck, and the old wooden hotel burned to the ground. By June of 1918, the Marshalls had built a new hotel of red brick with all the safety features of the day. They operated the flourishing resort for the next 40 years until 1958, when it was acquired by Pinehurst Inc., (Pinehurst Hotel) of Pinehurst, North Carolina, owned by the Tufts family. Each resort was seasonal, with the Marshall House operating in the summer and Pinehurst resort operating in the winter. To serve both hotels in high season the same staff was shuttled between the Marshall House in Maine for the summer season and back down to Pinehurst in North Carolina for the winter.

In 1971, the Marshall House and its substantial grounds was acquired by a group of year-round and summer residents. Finding the 53-year-old structure antiquated, they proceeded to demolish all of the buildings on the Neck and began redevelopment of the property. As part of the project, the Stage Neck Inn was built. Mr. and Mrs. Alexander B. Warrick, who had summered here almost all of their lives, opened Stage Neck Inn to the public on July 14, 1973.

In 1981, W. Mark Foster, a lifetime resident of York Harbor, and his father-in-law, Hal Field, purchased the Stage Neck Inn. Since that time, they have endeavored to maintain the well-established high standards of quality service and accommodations set by their predecessors.

During their ownership, they have made many improvements to the property including the addition of a fitness room, indoor pool and full-service spa. Initially built as an atrium structure, the indoor pool was demolished in 2012 and a new, energy-efficient pool accessible to all guests was built. The Inn has undergone extensive renovations to all of the guest rooms and public spaces.

Together with the entire Stage Neck Inn team, the Foster family continues the preservation of elegance and luxury the hotel has maintained for the past 50 years to ensure that the fine traditions of exceptional hospitality continue today and for many years to come.