North Newry, Maine

The Bethel Journals


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 Poplar Hotel or Poplar Tavern’s story provides a glimpse  of one of the Bethel-Newry-Upton areas most  interesting 19th Century stagecoach inns and vacation enterprises.  It was located on the well  traveled route from Bethel to the “lakes”. It was about 12 miles from Bethel to the hotel and another 15 miles  to Upton. This article provides a snapshot of the Poplar Hotel from 1886 to 1910.
The hotel was the social hub of Newry’s remote enclave in North Newry called “The Branch”.   Stagecoaches and freight wagons made daily trips from Bethel to Upton and return. The stages always  stopped at Poplar Hotel, which in addition to the stagecoaches maintained its own livery stable.  (See a description of travel options and rates.) In the 21st Century, a visitor or passer-by would wonder how such a large structure could be accommodated in such a seemingly small area tucked into the lot where the Branch Road connects with Maine Route 26.

One hundred years before commercial ski areas appeared,  fishing, hunting and relaxing in the mountains drew  “sports” and city families to large ( for their time) remote western Maine mountain side, lake side and country village inns.  One of these inns was the Poplar Tavern, renamed about 1901 to Poplar Hotel


In 1980 after Paula Wight had combed through tax records and newspapers to compile a brief account of the old tavern’s history, which she called “one of Newry’s most notable landmarks”, this is what she found and wrote for the Newry Profiles 1805 to 1980.



1854 TO 1980


The Maine Register for 1854 listed Ithiel’s (considered the 2d hotel in Newry built by Ithiel Smith) Tavern as ‘Popple Tree House’. It is noted as Ithiel Smith’s Hotel on the 1858 map.  Charles Bartlett was being taxed for the property as late as 1873. It was Charles Bartlett who changed the name to “Poplar Hotel”. He operated the hotel for some 26 years prior to moving out of town. He died in 1916.


Sometime during the 1880’s a group of old guests got together and purchased the property and it was known as the Bear River Club House.  In 1892 Scott A. Godwin was managing the house.  In 1895 a Kilgore was manager, and additions were made at this time, including billiard and pool tables. In 1898, when first-class board was $2.25 per week, the old office and reception room were torn down and rebuilt.  A year later the property was advertised for rent as being able to accommodate 65 guests, including tennis courts, billiard hall, livery stable.  In 1900, Mr. and Mrs. Coburn of Bethel were running the hotel.


By 1901, W.W. (Wallace) Kilgore would be operating the hotel which was transferred to him by the Bear River Club. Wallace would change the name to “Poplar Tavern” and it was he who constructed cabins or cottages to supplement the hotel itself.


Under his management, the price rose to $12. per week.


Continued on page 2.


Text Box:  
How to Get to the Poplar Hotel from  Boston in 1901
“From Boston take the (rail passenger) cars at the Western or Eastern Division of the Boston & Maine Railroad, leaving on Western Division at 8:30 A.M., reaching Portland at 12:30 P.M., a distance of 112 miles. A car from the Grand Trunk Railroad is attached to the 8:30 A.M. train over the Western Division,  or you may leave Boston by the Portland Line of Steamers from India Wharf each evening, arriving in Portland the next morning in time to connect with the morning on the Grand Trunk Railroad for Bethel. Boats land in Portland at Franklin Wharf about two minutes walk from Grand Trunk Depot.
Parties going by boat to Portland and taking the morning train on the Grand Trunk Railroad,  arrive at Bethel about 10:30 A.M., and Poplar Hotel abut 12:30 P.M., in time for dinner.
Parties can leave Boston by Boston and Maine Railroad at 1:00 P. M., arriving in Portland at 5:00 P.M., and connect with train for Bethel, stop over night, and leave Bethel the next morning, arriving at Poplar Hotel at 12:30 P.M.
Round trip tickets at reduced rates.
The new Union Station at Portland affords close connections with the Grand Trunk Railroad.”
From a post card produced for the Poplar Hotel.

Poplar Tavern, North Newry, Maine—after 1903.

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