|Chesuncook Village, Maine
|Chesuncook Village Historical Preservation Association Copyright CVHPA 2009 all rights reserved
|Through the years, the Lake House has also been known as the "Chesuncook House", the "Hotel" and the "Katahdin
View house" sitting upon what is still known as Chesuncook Farms which is the original name of the settlement. This
classic north woods structure and a few of it's surviving counterparts are still in use throughout todays north woods.
It sits squarely in the center of Chesuncook next to the cove along with several seasonal camps such as the New
Bedford Camp, of New Bedford, Massachusetts, the oldest continuous sports camp in Chesuncook sharing an ongoing
history to the early days of the Lake House. Also, along with the Meeting House and the cemetery in the woods out
back is what comprises most of Chesuncook. The rest of the original settlement was made into a subdivision in the
early 1920's by Ansel B. Smith (uncle Anse) which is what to this day makes up Upper and Lower Chesuncook
which is basically a scattering of seasonal camps. The term "village" which no longer applies is a hold over from
when this unorganized township was incorporated as a town during a brief period in the 1920's to early 30's when
about 300 people lived and worked here for the Great Northern Paper Company. Except for the Lake House, by the
mid 1950's it was all but abandoned. That's when Bert and Maggie McBurnie came to lease and then later own the
Lake House property. Since then, this settlement has been known by it's residents as just Chesuncook. The term
"village" still has a nostalgic ring to some of the visiting seasonal camp owners and tourist who never experienced
the time of the once long gone bustling little village community. Except for the Lake House there's no community in
the sense of a long ago by-gone era. To the south of the Lake House is lower Chesuncook with a dozen or so seasonal
camps. To its north is upper Chesuncook with another dozen or so camps.
The log shanty "Hotel" which was built here by Ansel Smith in 1849, was located on what is now the Lake House's
front lawn. The best account of the log shanty's history is found in Henry David Thoreau's book, "The Maine Woods"
in the chapter on "Chesuncook". He stayed at the shanty in 1853 on one of his treks through the North Woods. The
shanty continued to house loggers for several years after the present Lake House (built in 1864) was built. The shanty
was demolished later in the mid-late 1860's as was noted in "Some Pioneers of Moosehead, Chesuncook &
Millinocket" (1864) by F. S. Davenport, a Bangor author and musician who wrote of Chesuncook and the Lake
House while visiting it's first Summer in operation. Read one of his stories.
The existence of Chesuncook and the Lake House is due to the lumbering industry or in Ansel Smith's day, the "great
white pine". The Lake House and the log shanty were originally built to house and supply the people who worked in
logging as well as tourists and sports passing through the region. Chesuncook Lake House was and still is a farm.
Hay, oats, livestock and vegetables were all raised here by its early owners. It was and still is a one stop shop and
the heart and soul of the village. The current owners raise buffalo, pigs, sheep and chickens. A vegetable garden is
still used to feed guests fresh produce in the summer months. The Chesuncook Village Store is housed at the Lake
House as it was in the past with intervals at the New Bedford Camp when owned by GNPC, at times no more than a
back storeroom enterprise. This little general store in the woods caters to local and sportsman alike carrying anything
from dry goods to spark plugs, bug spray to batteries to ice cream & baked goods.
Prior to the arrival of Ansel Smith and several other settlers, indigenous Abenaki people had their own history of
these surrounding lakes, streams and forests. Though there's no evidence that the Abenaki had any settlement at
present day Chesuncook, there's certainly plenty in the surrounding area. The name Chesuncook, being derived from
the lake by Ameriacn settlers in the early 1800's, is today a natural stop over from the West Branch of the Penobscot
river travel. It's where the West Branch of the Penobscot river enters at the northwest of the lake, coming in from
around the "Point" (a natural point of land along the shoreline). Several other streams flow into the lake from the
north and northeast making todays Chesuncook a natural stop. Please see Chesuncook Lake House's Webcam View
of the lake & Mt Katahdin.
The Chesuncook Lake House & Cabins
(Chesuncook Farms) at the cove in Chesuncook.
Today, in the year 2010, the Chesuncook Lake House has been open for the past 146 years. Its present owners, David
and Luisa Surprenant and their five children have been operating the Inn for the last 12 years. This large farm house
structure was built in 1864, replacing the first log shanty "hotel" built in 1849 by Ansel Smith. Around 1859, John
H. Eveleth of Greenville, Maine, acquired the Chesuncook place. A Mr. Peter Walker, of Brighton, Maine, took
charge for Mr. Eveleth until 1863, when Mr. Eveleth, Mr. L.H. Folsom and Mr. L.S. Folsom, entered into a
partnership and built the frame house known as the Chesuncook (Lake) House. It is now on the National Registry of
From T.S.Steele's Paddle and Portage.1880
The earliest reference found in regard to the site of Chesuncook
was in 1837 by C.T. Jackson's published Report in the Second
Annual Report of the Geology of Public Land belonging to the
two States of Maine and Massachusetts:
|"A clearing has been made at the head of the lake, on land
belonging to the state, and some timber cut. There is not, however,
much good timber in the immediate vicinity."
|Chesuncook Village, Maine
Chesuncook Lake House "The Point".