Cheerful and bright with yellows and stripes, Josephine Macaffrey sits high above Bar Harbor. Casual with a patchwork quilt and sloping ceilings, this is a room that will surely make you smile, especially when you see Frenchman Bay sparkling beyond the treetops.
Flat panel TV
Josephine Macaffrey (1899–1977) was a pioneer of the lodging industry in the years following the 1947 forest fire. Between 1947 and the late 1960s, Josephine launched and operated two bed and breakfast inns, a hotel and a motel, all of which continue to operate today.
In 1946, Josephine’s sister Jennie Peterson retired to Bar Harbor along with her husband, Andrew. They opened an inn on Eden Street named the Onantakah, not far from Cleftstone. Based on their success and happiness, they convinced Josephine to move to Bar Harbor as well. On October 14, 1947, Josephine, a resident of the Boston area, purchased the abandoned mansion Cleftstone. Surrounded by waist-high grass, Cleftstone was last used by the former owners in the summer of 1942.
Three days later, on October 17, a major forest fire started in the center of the island, ultimately burning over half of the east side of the island. Cleftstone was the only home to survive on the west side of Eden Street. Her sister’s Onantakah burned in the fire. Josephine, still in Boston, was relieved to find that the uninsured Cleftstone did not burn. Despite the circumstances, she still planned to open Cleftstone the following year with the help of Jennie and Andrew.
Perhaps in an effort to convince the traveling public that hotel rooms still exited in post-fire Bar Harbor, the Chamber of Commerce influenced Josephine to open her new inn as a “hotel”. The two sisters moved the undamaged Onantakah sign down the street to Cleftstone, and it opened for the 1948 season as the Onantakah Hotel. For the 1949 season however, the name reverted to Cleftstone and it has been known as such since.
In the mid 1950s and following her success with Cleftstone, Josephine purchased the land up the hill where the mansion Mizzentop stood before the fire. There she built the Bluenose Inn, named after the ferry vessel that was soon to begin service between Bar Harbor and Yarmouth. Josephine also purchased the mansion Ledgelawn on Mt. Desert Street and opened it as an inn as well. She later built the Rockhurst Motel on land adjacent to the Ledgelawn.