Invoice and Kathy Kenny
Photograph COURTESY OF THE KENNYS

ELLSWORTH — It may possibly now be a federal criminal offense to open up mail not tackled to you, but that was not generally the scenario, reported Maine creator Invoice Kenny. 

“People would drop their mail off at the tavern and it would pile up on the table until they experienced sufficient mail to deliver.” It was implicit that people who did the offering of mail from tavern to tavern — crammed into and on top rated of modest stagecoaches bouncing above slim, rutted streets — essential a little something to preserve them hectic throughout the unpleasant journey, and “It was just accepted that they could read the mail together the way.”  

“The mail was operate in different ways back again then,” the writer extra. “The persons that acquired the mail would be the ones that compensated the postage.” Sending a letter cost roughly a day’s fork out, not the couple of cents we shell out right now. 

But pleasurable specifics about the postal provider are just a facet be aware in a e book by Monthly bill and his spouse, Kathy, “Historic Taverns and Tea Rooms of Maine” (Arcadia Publishing, 2021). 

“It was the to start with time in background that girls were ready to have a business,” explained Kathy of the tea rooms that sprung up in the late 1800s. “They ran the tearooms, they prepared the menus, they ordered all the foodstuff they desired … There was low overhead and there was good financial gain.” Women of all ages could now generate dollars from perform that experienced as soon as been unpaid, these as serving tea and making foods for social features. Tea rooms available ladies a put to dine out with out a male escort and played a significant position in the suffragette motion, letting women a place to manage and communicate freely. 

Via individual histories, accompanied by current and historic pictures, the Kennys’ e book introduces audience to taverns and tea rooms throughout the condition, from Bar Harbor to Bucksport, Presque Isle and beyond. 

The initial taverns opened in the 1700s, lengthy just before Maine grew to become a condition. Prior to the extension of the railroad, a journey from Boston to Ellsworth by stagecoach could consider 3 weeks, explained Bill, with coaches only capable to vacation around 10 to 12 miles just before both of those horses and riders necessary a relaxation. Taverns presented a location of respite, exactly where weary horses and travelers could avail on their own of a meal and a area to rest. 

Taverns quickly arrived to provide other roles as well, like as courtrooms and a assembly spot for nearby militia teams.  

“Government buildings were almost nonexistent,” writes Invoice, “yet it was essential for officials to perform organization and manage guidelines. The simple alternative was to carry government to outlying regions by a system acknowledged as ‘riding the circuit.’ By using a tavern room, they were being in a position to hold court with out encumbering good price. It was so thriving that they soon assigned the tavern still yet another duty, which was as a meeting spot for the community militia.” The Jameson Tavern in Freeport was allegedly the put where by closing papers were signed supplying Maine its independence from Massachusetts (as a result the name, “Freeport”). 

There are a variety of noted taverns and tea rooms in Hancock County, amongst them the Jed Prouty Tavern and Inn in Bucksport, frequented by various presidents and previous U.S. Secretary of Condition Daniel Webster, and the Avery Household (previously the Yellow Ball Tavern), the oldest dwelling nonetheless standing in Castine and likely the initial “drive-through” tavern in the United States, exactly where horsemen could purchase a mug of rum or beer devoid of dismounting.  

Hancock County also is home, of study course, to the renowned Jordan Pond Dwelling, exactly where tea and popovers are nevertheless savored by quite a few a visitor. The Inexperienced Mountain Tea Dwelling, as soon as housed atop Environmentally friendly Mountain (now acknowledged as Cadillac Mountain), was one particular of the first tea houses built in the condition, writes Kathy, in which “Guests could choose the Environmentally friendly Mountain Cog Railway from the foundation of Eagle Lake up to the summit of the mountain to get pleasure from afternoon tea with a spectacular look at of the ocean and encompassing region.” 

Tea rooms ran the gamut from the sprawling Jordan Pond House to a basic room in someone’s dwelling. They made available a assortment of teas, of system, along with “good, inexpensive lunches like salmon with egg sauce, soups and stews sandwiches these types of as pimento cheese, sliced chicken or cucumber or waffles with maple syrup.” Jogging these kinds of an enterprise concerned “menu scheduling, recipes, machines acquiring, part regulate, accounting, the employing of employees and the offering of goods,” Kathy points out. “A competent tea-space supervisor commanded regard and the admiration of all and had an enviable social situation inside the neighborhood.” 

As a spot the place women could get and speak freely, tea rooms also grew to become hotbeds of social and political activism.  

“Men would go to the tavern, consume absent mortgage loan money, drink so significantly they couldn’t go to get the job done the up coming working day, beat their wives, abuse their young children. That’s what launched the starting of the temperance movement,” Daniel Okrent, author of “Last Call: The Increase and Tumble of Prohibition,” informed TIME magazine in 2019.  

“The tea area owners would from time to time set a big letter ‘T’ in the window. By carrying out that, most individuals interpreted that as a tea room — it was but it also intended it was a temperance tea place,” reported Kathy, wherever ladies could collect to converse about the temperance and suffrage movements. Cups and saucers with the terms “Votes for Women” were being offered at tea rooms to elevate resources for the movement as perfectly. 

Even the fashions in tea rooms were more calm. Fairly than the constrictive corsets, girls generally donned tea gowns, which have been looser and a lot more comfortable. “Tea robes had been built to let the feminine physique a flexibility that Victorian costume did not supply,” claimed Kathy. “The a lot more we seemed into taverns and tea rooms the much more we located.” 

“Historic Taverns and Tea Rooms of Maine” is readily available in local bookstores and online. To get an autographed copy or buy a e-book straight from the authors, stop by historymaine.com 

Kate Cough

Kate is the paper’s Digital Media Strategist, accountable for all points social, and the occasional story also! She’s a previous reporter for the paper and can be arrived at at: [email protected]
Kate Cough