A 143-acre tract of land with an iconic, lakefront view of Mount Katahdin and a rich history is being donated to Baxter State Park today by Huber Resources Corp., a timber management company based in Old Town.

The Katahdin Lake parcel, which includes 4,000 feet of lake frontage, drew American landscape painter Frederic Church in the 1850s and many other artists and photographers since then.

It fills a critical gap in a 4,000-acre parcel surrounding Katahdin Lake that was purchased and donated to the park in 2006 through a deal brokered by the Trust for Public Land.

The 143 acres have been in the Huber family since the early 1940s. They have allowed public access, but decided recently to donate the parcel, said Bob Currie, vice president and chief communications officer for Huber.

“It was very obvious to us the right thing to do with this property was to have it incorporated into Baxter State Park, and have it for all the people of Maine and for their great-great-grandchildren to be able to enjoy,” Currie said. “This gift was a gift from the heart, it was bigger than whatever the property would be appraised at.”

Baxter State Park Director Jensen Bissell said the donation marked the first parcel donated by a corporation in the long history of the park, most of which was cobbled together through multiple land purchases made by Gov. Percival Baxter. The park, then consisting of 6,000 acres, was founded in 1931, but Baxter continued to buy land and add to it for the next 30 years. Through those and later purchases, the park now totals almost 210,000 acres.

“It really fits within the context of the park as we know it. I think it’s a remarkable gesture on the part of a corporation and the family. It renews my faith in how Maine corporations think about the state and how they manage land,” Bissell said.

The panoramic view of Mount Katahdin from Church’s Beach on the Huber land and the history of the Katahdin Lake property had sentimental value for the family, Currie said.

“When the Huber family first started coming to Maine in the early 1940s, it was one of the first pieces of land that one of the Hubers purchased in Maine,” he said.

The corporation now owns half a million acres in Maine.

But the property is also historically significant beyond serving as a setting for Church’s portraits of Mount Katahdin.

In the 1860s the Maine Legislature gave 175 acres, including Church’s Beach, to the Rev. Marcus Keep to thank him for providing access to Maine’s tallest mountain via the early trails he cut around the mountain.

“Marcus Keep built a cabin there. It’s just a very nice piece of land. The pocket beaches have views to the Great Basin,” Bissell said. “The land didn’t change hands many times since then. The Huber family still referred to it as the Keep lot.”

Some speculate that the land surrounding Katahdin Lake, including Church’s Beach, was part of Baxter’s original vision for the park.

“There is an indication that early on (Baxter) saw Katahdin Lake as part of the park and then later on it wasn’t. I think in his original vision, yes, it was a block of land that would be similar to what the park is now, but (the negotiations) didn’t work and we don’t know why,” Bissell said.

Huber Resources has donated other Maine land to conservation. In 1976, the corporation gave a 4,100-acre peat bog in Crystal and Sherman and 600 acres along the Seboeis River to The Nature Conservancy. It also donated a 36,000-acre conservation easement in the St. John River watershed to the Conservancy in 2000.

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:

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