Friends of Acadia Purchases Kingsleigh Inn to Provide Seasonal Workforce Housing for Acadia National Park Employees

The purchase is part of a broader strategy to help Acadia address the housing crisis on Mount Desert Island.

Dave Edson, Friends of Acadia Board of Directors Housing Committee Chair, Kevin Schneider, Acadia National Park Superintendent, Jack Kelley, Friends of Acadia Board Chair, and Eric Stiles, Friends of Acadia President and CEO, hold the ribbon cutting ceremony in front of the Kingsleigh Inn in Southwest Harbor. Friends of Acadia purchased the Inn to provide seasonal workforce housing for Acadia National Park employees. (Photo by Ginny Majka/Friends of Acadia)

BAR HARBOR, MAINE–On March 17, 2023, Friends of Acadia became the official owner of the Kingsleigh Inn in Southwest Harbor, ME. Formerly a Bed & Breakfast that housed visitors to Mount Desert Island (MDI) and Acadia National Park, Friends of Acadia plans to convert the inn to workforce housing for seasonal employees of Acadia National Park.

Though Friends of Acadia owns the property, it will be managed and operated by Acadia National Park in similar fashion to existing park housing. The building has eight bedrooms with adjoining bathrooms and a two-bedroom “owners” apartment, so the plan is to provide seasonal housing for 10 employees. The property will remain on the town’s tax roll.

Friends of Acadia has partnered with the National Park Service (NPS) to address the housing crisis on MDI and its surrounding communities. The housing shortage has a direct impact on Acadia’s ability to hire a seasonal workforce to provide a quality visitor experience, care for cultural and natural resources, make progress on diversity and inclusion initiatives, and advance other strategic priorities.

“Seasonal employees are essential to operating the park and providing visitor services in the park from May to November” said Acadia National Park Superintendent Kevin Schneider. “Last year, we were not able to fill all of our available seasonal positions largely because of the lack of housing options in and around Acadia. By expanding housing options, the Kingsleigh property will increase our capacity to recruit and retain seasonal staff members. We are incredibly grateful to Friends of Acadia for helping to support this need.”

Purchase of the Kingsleigh Inn falls within one of several strategies Friends of Acadia is taking in partnership with the National Park Service (NPS) to expand seasonal workforce housing and address MDI’s housing crisis.

The Kingsleigh Inn prior to Friends of Acadia purchasing the former bed and breakfast for Acadia National Park Seasonal Housing. (Photo: Julia Walker Thomas/Friends of Acadia)

“Our goal is to add 130 new beds over the next decade for the park and its partners,” said Friends of Acadia President and CEO Eric Stiles. “We’ve developed a three-pronged approach that includes: 1) Adding bedrooms to existing park units, 2) Repurposing commercial properties, like the Kingsleigh Inn; and 3) Constructing new housing units on sites within Acadia.

“While the permanent solution is to construct new housing units on NPS land that will be of minimal impact to natural resources or the visiting public, more immediate and interim measures are needed,” he added. “That’s where properties like the Kingsleigh Inn come into play.”

The housing crisis is not unique to Acadia National Park. Rather, it’s an issue faced by many parks throughout the National Park Service. “Friends of Acadia is excited to lead by partnering with the NPS to tackle this immense challenge, and we will design our investments to leverage, attract, and maximize federal dollars,” Stiles said.

“Supporting our talented and dedicated staff is a key component of fulfilling the National Park Service mission to preserve and protect amazing places like Acadia National Park for the enjoyment of current and future visitors,” said Schneider.

“It will take all hands-on deck to provide housing for our workforce on MDI and surrounding communities. In doing this work, we are not just addressing the housing problem, but also the equity issue. We’re removing a huge barrier to employment and helping to ensure that employment here remains available and affordable to all,” Stiles said.

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