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History of Stage Neck Inn


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February 19, 2008

Stage Neck Inn's Historic Setting

In colonial times, fish was dried and salted in order to preserve it for use through the long winters and for transport and sale to inland communities. This process was done on long tables called “stages” which were built out in the open areas near the sea, away from towns and villages because of the pungent odors of the fish.

In the early days of York, Stage Neck Inn’s site was an island at the mouth of the river and was held as common land. Its location was ideally suited adjacent to a protected harbor and well down-stream from the colonial village of York. A causeway was built across the shallow eastern branch of the river to connect Stage Island to the mainland. When the Harbor Beach filled in, it then became known as “Stage Neck”.

Before Sewall's Bridge was opened to traffic in 1761, the trail from Wells to Kittery followed close to the shoreline coming through York Harbor (then known as the “Lower Town”) across the causeway and around the northwesterly side of Stage Neck to a ferry landing near the narrow part of the channel. If you walk past the new docks, you can still find traces of the old roadway, where the ledge was hammered away.

Colonial militia reenactment by the Old York Museum
Colonial militia reenactment by the Old York Museum
During the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, a fort was maintained on Stage Neck in front of the Inn’s current Harbor Porches dining room. Below water level in the pond, just under the ledge, parts of the foundation of the fort still remain. This section of Stage Neck has hence become known as “the Point”. At one time, the Point was designated as a public execution ground, and gallows were erected. Some local histories refer to it as “Gallows Point”, although an Indian girl was the only person to meet her fate here.

During the first-part of the nineteenth century, Stage Neck was the home site for several of the area’s poorer families. It remained such until 1870-1871 when Nathaniel Grant Marshall acquired the entire neck.

He removed the homes and built the first hotel here, named “Marshall House”. This started the harbor area’s evolution into a fashionable summer resort. In 1881, Mr. Marshall doubled the size of his hotel to accommodate the ever-increasing summer visitors from Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Providence, and Boston.

In January 1916, fire struck and the old wooden hotel burned to the ground. By June of 1918, the Marshalls had built a magnificent new hotel of red brick with all the safety features of the day. They operated the flourishing resort for the next 40 years until 1958, when it was acquired by the Tufts family of Pinehurst, NC.

In 1971, the property was acquired by a group of year-round and summer residents. Finding the 53-year-old structure obsolete, they proceeded to raze all of the buildings on the Neck, and began redevelopment of the property. As part of the project, Stage Neck Inn was built. Mr. and Mrs. Alexander B. Warrick, who had summered here almost all of their lives, opened Stage Neck Inn to the public on July 14, 1973.

In 1980, W. Mark Foster, a lifetime resident of York Harbor, and his father-in-law, Hal Field, purchased the Stage Neck Inn. Since that time they have endeavored to maintain the well-established high standards of quality service and accommodations set by their predecessors.

During their ownership, they have made many improvements to the Inn with the goal of increasing guest comfort. A fitness room, indoor pool and The Spa at Stage Neck were added. Initially built as an atrium structure, the indoor pool was demolished in 2012 and a new, energy-efficient pool accessible to all guests was built. Extensive renovations to the restaurants (Harbor Porches, Sandpiper Bar & Grille, and the Outdoor Terrace) and changes to streamline our kitchen have recently occurred. In addition, each year we upgrade our physical building, update some furniture and replace wall and floor coverings.

Several members of the SNI management team have been working at the Inn since Mark Foster purchased the Inn. This long-term commitment to excellence has earned the Inn AAA's Four Diamond Award since the award's inception in 1976 and has helped the Inn earn the repeat business of a loyal base of guest. Mark's children Peter and Katherine Foster have also joined the Stage Neck Inn team in recent years. Together, we are working hard to ensure that the fine traditions of exceptional hospitality continue not only today but also for many years to come.