After nearly two years on the market, a Gilded Age waterfront mansion in Bar Harbor located along a stretch of shoreline formerly known as “Millionaire’s Row” is scheduled to be auctioned off next month.
East of Eden, originally built in 1910, initially was listed for sale in late summer 2017 for $15 million but has since had its asking price reduced to $12.5 million. The Italianate palazzo-style mansion, with 12,500 square feet of finished living space, had been owned by William B. Ruger Jr., whose father had made a fortune designing and manufacturing firearms.
Ruger, who lived in Newport, New Hampshire, died in September at the age of 79, according to an obituary published in the Mount Desert Islander weekly newspaper. Ruger’s family continues to own the property, which is located directly off Route 3 between the local village of Hulls Cove and downtown Bar Harbor.
The assessed value of the property, according to Bar Harbor’s municipal assessing records, is $5.1 million.
The mansion sits between a former nursing home that recently was acquired by lodging firm Ocean Properties, and a luxury home built in 2015 by Maine auto dealership owners John and Debbie Darling of Bangor.
The family decided to put the house up for auction rather than adjust the list price, according to Susan Ferrante-Collier, the listing agent for the estate. Similar to how fine art is sold, that’s becoming a more common practice for selling luxury properties, she said.
The auction is scheduled for 2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 7, and is open only to registered bidders, according to information posted at the Platinum Luxury Auctions website.
The mansion sits on 9 manicured waterfront acres and has roughly 1,100 feet of shoreline frontage, according to the auction firm. It has 28 rooms including eight bedrooms, nine full bathrooms, three half baths, a professional-grade kitchen and a wine cellar. The estate also features a deep-water dock and a separate garage built in 2008 that has eight tall vehicle bays and a two-sided, drive-through design.
Other features include large fireplaces and marble floors, according to the auction company.
The home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. According to its 1979 register application , it was designed in the Beaux Arts and Mediterranean Revival styles, and was one of many grand estates built during the Gilded Age by the wealthy Mount Desert Island summer residents — which included members of the Rockefeller, Astor, Ford, Milliken, Pulitzer and Vanderbilt families. At the time, it cost $97,200 to build and was built by “150 Italian workers.”
The Great Fire of 1947, which burned 17,000 acres on the eastern side of MDI, destroyed most of the local mansions built by wealthy summer rusticators. However, many estates that were located at the water’s edge, including East of Eden, survived the inferno. From 1959 until 1975, the property was used as a French language instruction school for girls, after which it was sold and used as a private residence.
Ferrante-Collier said Monday that registered bidders have to pay a fee of $250,000 by 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6, to be eligible to participate in the auction. The fees will be refunded to those whose bids are not accepted, she said.
There will be an 11 percent buyer’s premium tacked on to the price of the winning bid, Ferrante-Collier said. But, prior to the auction, if a bidder submits a proposal that ends up being the winning bid, they will have only a 1 percent buyer’s premium tacked on to that price.
The Ruger family will also consider serious offers before the auction, she said.
“The house can be sold prior to [the auction] with an offer acceptable to the family,” Ferrante-Collier said.