Goose Rocks Beach was already a summer resort in 1873 when the Kennebunkport Seashore Company subdivided Cape Arundel to make way for the luxurious Ocean Bluff Hotel. Unlike Cape Arundel, Goose Rocks has always been a casual place for parents to relax while their children discover the meaning of life.
Daniel Dow of Newton, MA built the first summer cottage at Goose Rocks around 1865 on land owned by Kennebunkport farmer, Elbridge Proctor. Lucky for us, Daniel’s son Francis A. Dow became a professional photographer. Former President of the Kennebunkport Historical Society, Julian Howard, who also summered at Goose Rocks Beach as a child and undoubtedly knew the Dow family well, preserved some of Dow’s early glass plate negatives.
Augustus and Emma Foss of Biddeford purchased a lot on King’s Highway in 1896 from Benjamin Fuller. They built a small guest house on it where ice cream was sold the following year. In 1898, Emma Foss decided she wanted to run a much larger hotel. They moved The Belvidere Guest House one lot over to the east corner of Belvidere Ave. and King’s Highway, close to the Dow Cottage and commissioned revered architect John Calvin Stevens to design a modern shingle-style three-story hotel with a broad piazza and projecting gables.
The grand opening of The New Belvidere took place on June 16, 1900. Most of the more than 30 guest rooms had an ocean view. The dining room, with its stone fireplace, was large enough to serve 100 guests. You might recognize it as The Tides. One of the guests who signed the register on Saturday, June 16th was Mrs. Benjamin F. Cobleigh of Roslindale, Massachusetts. She was joined by her husband Benjamin the following day.
July 4th was a Wednesday that year. One notable signature in the register that day less than one month after the grand opening was Theodore Roosevelt of Oyster Bay. Imagine the surprise of Mr. William Hayward of Boston when he signed in later that day. I so wanted it to be true but in fact, Vice-Presidential Candidate, Theodore Roosevelt was campaigning very publicly in Oklahoma City on July 4, 1900.
Emma Foss signed a one-year $4,500 mortgage with The Biddeford Savings Bank in Feb 1901 and unfortunately, she was unable to pay it off. She sold the hotel to one of her first guests, Benjamin Cobleigh in 1902.
According to the register, Mr. and Mrs. Conan Doyle of Belfast, Ireland stayed at the hotel for the second half of August 1904 but I confess a certain amount of skepticism.
I have so far been unable to determine if Emma Foss continued to run the hotel under Cobleigh’s ownership or if the next owner Joseph Allen leased the hotel for a few years before he purchased it in 1908. Allen’s advertising brochure claimed his proprietorship began in 1903. By 1912, a row of fourth floor dormers had been added by Jo Allen. He changed the name of the hotel to Allens-by-the-Sea in 1922.
On Wednesday, September 2, 1934, Greta Garbo of Hollywood and Clark Gable of Spain registered at the hotel separately. Their signatures were very similar. They also matched young Nancy Twombly’s handwriting. I’ll let you be the judge. Joseph died in 1940 and his son Albert Allen took over management until his death in 1957. Albert’s widow, his sister and his sister-in-law officially renamed the hotel Tides Inn.
Ed and Jania Anuszewski bought the hotel at Goose Rocks Beach from Eva Harper and Gladys Allen in 1965. They renamed it Tides-Inn-by-the-Sea. In order to obtain insurance, they had to remove the 4th floor dormers.
Marie Cameron Henriksen bought the hotel in 1972. She claimed to have occasionally met the ghost of Emma Foss wandering around her favorite room #25. The fourth-floor dormers were rebuilt in 2004. Marie and her daughter Kristen sold Tides Inn by the Sea to Kennebunkport Resort Collection in 2011. They have rechristened it The Tides Beach Club.