The first village to be settled by Europeans on Mount Desert Island, Somesville was formerly called Betwixt the Hills and is now a National Historic District. It is located at the northern end of Somes Sound, part of the Town of Mount Desert. Today, like the sound, it’s named for Abraham Somes (1732-1831), who is considered the pioneer settler on Mount Desert Island.
Somes was a cooper (barrel maker) for the fishermen of Gloucester, Massachusetts. In the period between the decisive English victory over the French at Quebec (1759) and the peace treaty (1763) ending the Seven Years War between the two countries, he first visited, and then moved to, the area that today is Somesville. Somes had been urged to do so by the governor of Massachusetts, Sir Francis Bernard, who, having been granted one-half of the island was trying to import settlers to establish his rights to the area.
When Bernard visited his new property in the fall of 1762, his diary entry for October 7th mentions that having come up the sound (which he called a river), “We went on shore and into Somes’s log house, found it neat and convenient, though not quite furnished, and in it a notable woman [Somes’s wife Hannah] with four pretty girls, neat and orderly.” The governor also found another family living nearby — James Richardson had moved up from Gloucester at the same time with his wife and five children — but for whatever reason (perhaps because it has a better ring to it) the oldest settlement on Mount Desert Island today is called Somesville, not Richardsonville.
Visitors come to Somesville today to take in the sight of beautifully preserved examples of early New England architecture, the Acadia Repertory Theater, and what must be one of the most photographed bridges in the state – a simple white footbridge in the center of town that arches over the stream flowing from Somes Pond to Somes Sound. Somesville enjoys close proximity to Echo Lake, Long Pond and Acadia National Park hiking trails.