History of The Inn
To more fully understand the Inn's historic roots, it is helpful to learn a bit about York, Maine's rich and remarkable past. The first settlers came to York Maine in 1623 and settled at the mouth of the York River. Primarily English and Scot, they were farmers and fishermen. Their efforts were successful and the area was growing when in 1692, an Indian massacre occurred, destroying all but a handful of these pre-colonial buildings. Through strength and determination the town was rebuilt and prospered. The picturesque York River was a fluid expressway for merchant ships during the 1700s. Warehouses lined the riverbanks and as many as fifty multi-masted ships were anchored in the York River at one time. During this period John Hancock owned and operated a wharf and business on the York River behind the York Golf and Tennis Club. The wharf is still there today operated as a museum and art gallery by the Old York Historical Society.
The Yorks continued to grow through the 1700s and peaked about 1815. The Industrial Revolution had begun. Competition in New Hampshire and Massachusetts brought about a decline in the economy. A fishing community living on the Isles of Shoals, ten miles off the coast, dismantled their homes and brought them to Stage Neck at the mouth of the York River, hoping for a better way of life. (The Neck is directly visible from the main dining room of the Inn-now the site of the Stage Neck Inn). It was probably at this time that our post and beam fireplaced "Cabin Room" (circa 1637) was dismantled by its owners and brought by barge to York Harbor from the Isles of Shoals where it had been used as a sail loft for the refitting of ships sails.
A second economic boom began in 1871 with the building of the Marshall House on Stage Neck. This was the beginning of an era. Over a hundred guest houses and hotels were erected throughout the years that followed, and the harbor area became a summer haven for literary and cultural notables and the affluent. Approximately 550 large homes were built as summer residences. The York Harbor Inn, then known as the Hillcroft Inn, was operating as an Inn with a handful of guestrooms, a dining room and a tavern. The popular lounge was and still is known as "The Cellar", complete with horse stables converted into cocktail sitting areas and a functional hitching post outside next to the Cellar door.
At the turn of the century, the area rivaled that of Bar Harbor and Newport. Trolley and train tracks led vacationers from the four corners of New England to the southern coast of Maine. The trolley ran right in front of the Inn and original trolley lamps hang from the beams of our Cabin Room, recalling that grandiose era of sunny, seaside resorts.
The Inn changed ownership in the forties, and was operated by the Colligan family until 1979 when, it was purchased by the current owners/operators the Dominguez family. The Dominguez' have continued to build the business, adding a major addition to the rear in 1988 and refurbishing all of the Inn's major mechanical and electrical systems, as well as adding a professional kitchen and redecorating all of the Inn's guestrooms. The historic building adjacent to the inn on the west side (circa 1783) was purchased in 1983 and became part of the Inn, housing 11 guestrooms and is known as the Yorkshire House.
The Inn continues to grow, providing a variety of services to traveling and local guests, including fine dining and lodging, banquet and meeting space, conference facilities and the Ship's Cellar Pub.