This estate along the Shore Path in Bar Harbor was built in 1883 for Mary Cadwalader Jones, a close friend and literary agent of her sister-in-law Edith Wharton. Jones’s other friends in New York City included Henry James, Henry Adams, and Theodore Roosevelt.
Her daughter Beatrix Farrand (1872-1959), who took over the property, has been called “the female equivalent of America’s most well-known landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmstead.” She was the only woman in the eleven charter members of the American Association of Landscape Architects at its founding in 1899, and at her death the last surviving member of the American Society of Landscape Gardeners.
For many years beginning in 1939 Farrand (at age 67) tried to make Reef Point a showplace botanical garden and reference library for public use.
But visitors did not come in sufficient numbers, it was hard to find skilled gardening staff in this remote area, the climate was severe, and after the Fire of ‘47, when many of the wealthy did not return, the taxes increased for those who remained on the island.
After using up two-thirds of her income, she finally gave up the idea (at age 83) in 1955, a few years before she died at the MDI Hospital. Reef Point ultimately was torn down, and only the brick terrace at the south end of the current house on the site is original. Many of the plants from Reef Point ended up at the Asticou Azalea Garden and Thuya Garden in Northeast Harbor.
FUN FACT: Beatrix Farrand designed the East Garden at the White House for Woodrow Wilson’s wife Ellen. (It no longer exists.) She also designed Theodore Roosevelt’s tombstone in Oyster Bay, N.Y.