Artists have long been brilliant ambassadors for the craggy Maine coastal area that is now Acadia National Park. In the mid-1850s Thomas Cole, founder of the Hudson River school of landscape painting, and his student Frederic Edwin Church traveled hundreds of miles north to Mount Desert Island. Also drawn to the northern coast of Maine were Fairfield Porter, Fitz Henry Lane, John Singer Sargent, and Marsden Hartley, among others.
While artists were instrumental in communicating the beauty and power of the Maine coast, wealthy Boston native George Bucknam Dorr played a major role in the preservation of the land. Called the father of Acadia, he was the founder and first superintendent of what was then New England’s only national park. Most national parks have been created on federal lands; Acadia was created out of donations of private land.
It was in the summer of 1916 that the National Park Service was created, and President Wilson accepted the 5,000-acre parcel that was the beginning of what today is Acadia National Park. The centennial of those two milestones is being celebrated with the publication of two books. Brothers and longtime Maine residents David and Carl Little are co-authors of “Art of Acadia” (Down East), a coffee-table book that showcases the output of artists who through the centuries have responded to the landscape and seascape of Mount Desert Island and its environs. Their book mentions the key role of Dorr and his fellow preservationists in establishing the first national park east of the Mississippi River.
In “Creating Acadia National Park: The Biography of George Bucknam Dorr” (Friends of Acadia), historian Ronald H. Epp unfurls the story of the park’s founding. In key supporting roles are Dorr’s fellow Downeast Maine landowners Charles Eliot, president of Harvard University, and John D. Rockefeller, who donated more than 10,000 acres to the park and funded the construction of roads and bridges there. Dorr loved living on the oceanfront farm his father had bought, but he spent a lot of time in Washington, D.C., over the years lobbying the federal government to establish Acadia National Park. As Dorr wrote, referencing Acadia, “The men in control will change, the Government itself will change, but its possession by the people will remain whatever new policies or developments may come.”
Trial lawyer Jonathan F. Putnam graduated first in his class at Harvard Law School but does he have the right stuff to become a successful mystery writer? Early reviews are promising and his subject — Abraham Lincoln — is a perennial favorite. Putnam launches his debut historical mystery “These Honored Dead” (Crooked Lane) at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Harvard Coop. In the novel, there’s an affair and not one but three dead bodies as a young Lincoln sets out to solve his first murder case.
■ “Adnan’s Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After ‘Serial’ ” by Rabia Chaudry (St. Martin’s)
■ “The Book That Matters Most” by Ann Hood (Norton)
Pick of the Week
Lori Fazio of R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, Conn., recommends “I Will Send Rain” by Rae Meadows (Holt): “In the West of the 1930s as the Dust Bowl storms begin, Annie Bell struggles to keep her home, body, and family free of the layers of dust that reappear as fast as they are wiped clean. Her husband dreams of rain; her teenage daughter is blinded by love; her young son suffers from dust pneumonia; and now an admirer is forcing Annie to question her own ethics and being.”
Jan Gardner can be reached at JanLGardner@ yahoo.com.