Guys Cliff

Bar Harbor, ME
United States
Guys Cliff

Landscape Information

Mr. & Mrs. James Byrne Estate

Originally built in 1874 as a summer home for prominent Mount Desert developer, Charles T. How, Guys Cliff was named for the second owner, E.C. Cushman’s, son. The third owner, James Byrne of New York, retained the mansion’s name and hired architect Guy Lowell to remodel it in 1926. In 1928 landscape architect Beatrix Farrand, designed three stepped terraces that transformed the lengthy slope above Frenchman’s Bay into a series of outdoor rooms enclosed by formal, capped walls built of similarly-sized flat stones. Local landscape architect Howard Kneedler worked on the property around 1933, however the work of this designer is no longer extant.  

In the mid twentieth century, the estate was converted into a seminary for the Oblate Fathers of Mary Immaculate before being acquired in the 1980s by the College of the Atlantic. Following the destruction of the mansion in a fire, the institution built, in its place, the Shingle-style Kaelber Hall, incorporating the historic ocean views and three signature terraces into the new building’s setting. Kaebler Hall’s open-air archway leads to a plaza that connects to an extant historic double staircase to the first terrace. Two staircases, aligned on axis with the double stairs, lead to the lower terraces. The lowest terrace, closest to the ocean, features a balcony-like overlook with ornamental iron rails set between stone pillars. Today the terraces’ inside walls are bordered by narrow beds of peonies, hostas, and roses.