Joseph Henry Curtis summered on Mount Desert Island from 1880 to 1928, first as a lodger and then as the owner of waterfront property in the village of Asticou. In 1912 he built Thuya Lodge, which was accessed by a boat landing that led to a ¼-mile long hillside trail that emerged at the lodge. Visitors followed Curtis’s long sets of stone stairs and paths to the lodge, which provided panoramic views of the Northeast Harbor from two lookouts and a stone shelter. Curtis improved a favorite spot with coping stones and boulders, backed by a high ledge, to create an open-air performance area.
He and friend Charles Savage established the Asticou Terraces Trust, which donated about twenty acres for public use to Mount Desert upon Curtis’s death in 1928. Over the next ten years, Savage resurfaced paths, added fencing, and built additional lookouts based on Curtis’ model using weathered cedar posts and railings, rustic wooden benches, and red shingled roofs. On the site for open-air performances, he and sculptor Robert McKenzie built the Joseph Henry Curtis Memorial, a terrace with irregular paving stones, a low granite wall lined with native blueberry shrubs, and a massive stone monument with an inscription to Curtis along with his profile created in bronze. Today the Asticou Terraces are part of the 140-acre Mount Desert Land and Garden Preserve open to the public.