The Herbert Grand Hotel was built in 1918 by Mr. Herbert Wing. Nearly a century later, the hotel continues to welcome visitors from both near and far to the western mountains of Maine. Situated along the Carrabassett River on Route 27, about 12.5 miles directly south of Sugarloaf Mountain, this living piece of history offers a safe haven year-round to hikers, hunters, skiers, and snowboarders, to name a few.
I had a chance to sit down with the current owner of the hotel to find out more about its history and what makes the Herbert Grand Hotel special. I not only found out some intriguing information about the place, (they had a visit from Maine Ghost Hunters in 2012), I also found out that it has a lot more to offer than just a room - it also has charm.
History in the making
Mr. Wing was a complex man, described by some as an egomaniac, a man who thrived off of being powerful - and powerful he was.
A lawyer, who owned the local bank, the local mill and the local electric company, didn't let his control stop there. He was also an aspiring politician who's goal it was to become the governor of Maine. Already a state representative, Mr. Wing built the hotel to entertain his fellow politicians from Augusta. What better way to greet your guests than with a party at your own hotel?
After learning more about Mr. Wing and his preferences, absurdities and desires to become the most powerful man in Maine, I can't help but compare him to the ever-famous Jay Gatsby. Perhaps Mr. Wing's fantasies of becoming governor of Maine, in addition to owning - and to a certain extent controlling - most things in town, aren't too far off from the persona Fitzgerald creates in his protagonist: a self-made American man, seeking a place in high society; a star entertainer and a shady businessman. Much like Gatsby, Mr. Wing was well known for his alcohol-crazed, lady-friendly soirees held at the Herbert Grand Hotel during the early 1920s. The only thing missing from this story is Daisy.
After failing to secure the primary in 1925, Mr. Wing's political career ended. What did not terminate was his ego. As owner of the electric company, Mr. Wing continued to exercise his power by turning others' power off (electricity, that is). If Mr. Wing was challenged on any account or doubted by his fellow Mainers, he would take the liberty of shutting down the town's electricity in order to teach them a lesson. And as a result of his irrational lack of trust in his townspeople, Mr. Wing would shut down the town’s electricity whenever he was away.
As if controlling the town's access to electricity wasn't enough, Mr. Wing went so far as to deny Democrats a room at his hotel. A staunch Republican? I'd say so. His strong hatred of the Democratic Party and FDR drove him to institute a rule at the Herbert Grand Hotel: no proof of Republican Party membership, no room.
Once the late 30's rolled around, Mr. Wing decided to close the doors of the Herbert Grand Hotel to the public, using the grounds as his dwelling until his passing.
Since Mr. Wing's death, the Herbert Grand Hotel has changed hands several times. With each new owner comes added character, in addition to a growing list of historical facts that make the Herbert Grand Hotel what it is today. Interested in learning more about my mention of the Maine Ghost Hunters visit? You can watch the episode here to find out first hand what they found.
Once a place for political entertainment, the Herbert Grand Hotel now serves as a historical landmark just 12 miles from Maine's premier ski resort: Sugarloaf Mountain. With some great Ski & Stay packages and special discounts for Season Pass holders, why stay any place else?