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Poland Spring
A Tale of the Gilded Age, 1860-1900
David L. Richards

Revisiting New England

New Hampshire
2005 • 328 pp. 23 illus. 1 map. 3 Appendixes. 6 x 9"
American History - 19th Century / Economics & Business

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“Anecdote-rich account of a vanished era at Poland Spring”Boston Globe

An interdisciplinary examination of Gilded Age American enterprise, in a study of how one family farm developed into a world-famous business.

Between 1860 and 1900 the Ricker family’s rustic frontier farm became the world-renowned summer community of Poland Spring, Maine, a middle landscape where upper-middle-class patrons and their urban values of status, leisure, and consumption confronted, flirted with, embraced and ultimately subsumed traditional, rural New England. First and foremost a cultural study, Poland Spring chronicles the rise of a nineteenth-century tourist mecca. By successfully linking its fortunes to the railroad and tourism, Poland Spring became home to both a classic manifestation of the magnificent Victorian summer hotel culture of the Northeast, the Poland Spring House, and to the legendary business that originated one of the most popular and enduring brands in the mineral water marketplace, the eponymous Poland Spring.

This complex story represents a fascinating microcosm of the blossoming of the vacation trade and tourism in nineteenth-century New England, the emergence of the “springs” phenomenon, the development of entrepreneurialism into corporate capitalism, and the extension into the rural Northeast of the modern values that still predominantly shape the American cultural landscape. Scholars interested in regional, business, and tourism history as well as modernist studies will find much to admire in this progressive cultural history of the Gilded Age, to which historian David Richards brings impeccable scholarship and an energetic narrative style.

Read about Poland Spring Heritage Day, celebrating publication of the book. Also, learn more about the book at the Poland Spring Preservation Society web site.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

"[A] purely pleasureful look backward into an age which took itself and its pleasures very seriously and insisted that everyone else do as well."
Courier-Gazette (Rockland, ME)

"Poland Spring is a captivating case study of entrepreneurial ingenuity, hard work and hucksterism, a business success story that accurately exposes the excesses of the Gilded Age in Maine."
The (Maine)Times Record

"[Poland Spring] pulls no punches, is carefully researched, placed in an understandable historical setting and presented in a readable, enjoyable manner." Maine Sunday Telegram


Certificate of Merit from the American Association of State and Local History (2006) Commendation

DAVID RICHARDS is Assistant Director of the Northwood University Margaret Chase Smith Library in Skowhegan, Maine. He earned his Ph.D. in History from the University of New Hampshire.

Sat, 30 Sep 2017 13:46:00 -0500