Acadia National Park is located on Mount Desert Island, the largest island off the coast of Maine. George Bucknam Dorr, known as the father of Acadia National Park, is responsible for the preservation and protection of the island’s lands for future generations. His ties to the land began in 1868, when his parents Charles Hazen Dorr & Mary Gray Ward Dorr, a wealthy couple from Boston, purchased 98 acres of land on Mount Desert Island with intentions of building a summer home. By 1880, the family moved into their summer home known as Old Farm Cottage. The Old Farm Cottage was 132 feet long, 52 feet wide with 3 stories and 30 rooms.
Before devoting his life to the development of Acadia National Park, George Dorr pursued studies at Harvard and Oxford. He also traveled widely in Europe with his family. In 1901, he began as the Vice President of Hancock County Trustees of Public Reservations (HCTPR), a committee whose purpose is acquisition and preservation of private land on Mount Desert Island for public use. At the time, George Dorr gave most of his property and fortune to the trust. George Dorr’s work with HCTPR made him the driving force behind the establishing the land as a National Monument in 1916.
In 1942, after having spent most of his fortune caring for Acadia, he transferred ownership of Old Farm Cottage to the National Park Service, while he spent the remaining time of his life at Storm Beach Cottage, a much smaller guest house added to the property around 1879. Storm Beach Cottage still stands today and is now owned by Acadia National Park. The same cannot be said for Old Farm Cottage. After considering the costs associated with maintaining the building and its cost for repairs, in comparison to the buildings already in use by the park, officials recommended to strip the home and demolish it. By 1954, the Old Farm Cottage was gone.
In the fall of 2010, an interpretive program entitled “The Missing Mansion” was initiated. It focused on George B. Dorr’s history and passion for preservation. The program also aimed at enhancing visitors experience through exploration of the former site of Old Farm Cottage. Recently, Acadia National Park staff has been working together with Northern Arizona University (NAU) personnel on the digital interpretation of the George B. Dorr estate site at Acadia National Park.
I am currently working with the project’s Principle Investigator to develop the cross-platform Augmented Reality application that will tell the story of George Dorr and the Old Farm Cottage. The AR app will allow for 3d visualization of a “Old Farm Cottage”, the historic George Dorr Mansion. The app will also include text, graphics, audio and video to assist in the building’s interpretation. With a realistic model overlaid in place of its foundation, and photos of the house exterior, users will get a sense for what the home would have looked like at the time of its existence. By selecting a floor within the home, users can view photos of the house interior and listen to recording of historic contrived conversations to experience what life would have been like throughout the home. The application will also conduct research on how park staff will adapt to new media approaches for interpretation.