Head towards the west side of the island to visit an example of island life at Carroll Homestead, a time capsule of early settlement before Mount Desert Island became a tourist destination and Acadia National Park came into being.
As tourism came into fashion on the island in the late 1800s, farms were sold, new houses built, outbuildings were left to collapse, and fields were reclaimed by forests. In many respects, this is the story of thousands of traditional farmsteads across northern New England. The Carroll Farm was spared this fate and shares with us what life could be like on a homestead almost 200 years ago.
In the late 1700s and early 1800s, settlers came to Mount Desert Island with their families to form homesteads where they would build houses, create farms and live off the land as well as the sea.
For 92 years, three generations of Carrolls lived on this traditional New England homestead. Together, the family worked the small-scale farm to provide their needs. They combined this with working off the farm to acquire cash. The first John Carroll cleared the land, built the house and later the barn. He used his mason skills to bring in cash needed to buy items they were unable to produce on the farm. His son Jacob Carroll took over the homestead after a life at sea and continued the farming tradition. He also took up work as a mason and passed this skill on to his sons. By the early 1900s, the second John Carroll and his family (the third generation) were living on the property. Making his living entirely as a mason, the farm was retired. The house was without modern conveniences such as running water, electricity, or gas lighting. Living outside of town became inconvenient. John had a long commute to work, and the children a long walk to school, so in 1917 the Carrolls left their ancestral home to move into town.
It continued to be used by Carroll family relatives as a place of retreat and remembrance. A place to gather throughout the 1900s, and was finally donated to Acadia National Park in 1982.
Carroll Homestead is approximately 30 minutes from Hulls Cove Visitor Center.
- By car: From Hulls Cove Visitor Center, go straight at the four-way intersection at the exit of the visitor center parking lot. Continue 3 miles until signs for ME Route 233 and exit left. Turn right onto ME Route 233, turn right onto 198 when 233 dead ends. At the stop light turn left onto ME Route 102 towards Southwest Harbor. The gravel road that leads to the parking lot will be on your left and there is a sign for the Homestead.
- By bus: There is no bus stop at Carroll Homestead. When the Island Explorer is running, the bus will drop off and pick up people on ME Route 102 by the Carroll Homestead driveway. To get dropped off, pull the cord as the bus approaches. To get picked up, wave down bus; if the bus is full, you may have to walk to Echo Lake to get onto a bus.
Take either of the two paths from the parking lot to view the homestead. You can choose between the path to the left which is a walking path through the woods, or you can walk the gravel drive up to the accessible parking area straight ahead.
Rangers open the homestead for touring on a seasonal basis. Check the park calendar for dates and times.