BAR HARBOR — A Portland philanthropist bought a historic waterfront mansion for $4.1 million at auction Saturday and plans to resell it to benefit the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland and the University of New England.

Portland real estate developer and philanthropist Art Girard and his wife, Fran, made the winning bid on East of Eden during an auction held at the property at 145 Eden St. The nearly 9-acre estate is on the National Register of Historic Places and was listed for more than $15 million when it first went on the market.

Art Girard said Monday that he plans to sell the property for exactly what he paid, about $4.6 million, which includes a buyer’s premium of $451,000, and to require that the new owner also make a $400,000 donation to be divided between the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland in Westbrook and the University of New England in Biddeford.

Philanthropist Art Girard Courtesy Art Girard

That would bring the next buyer’s total cost to $5 million.

Before the previous owners decided to sell the estate at auction, the property was listed with The Knowles Co. realty for $12.5 million, down from $15.5 million. The 8.95-acre property and buildings are assessed by the town for tax purposes at $5.2 million.

According to Matthew Marin of Platinum Luxury Auctions, nine registered bidders participated in Saturday’s auction.


“This is our way of giving to the charities, and everyone gets a good buy,” Girard said. “We wouldn’t make a dime, and the $400,000 would be going to charities,” allowing the buyer/donor to take a tax deduction.

“This cuts out all this paperwork. It’s kind of too simple to be complicated,” he said, adding, “I do odd stuff like this.”

In 2014, Girard donated $1 million to the animal refuge league’s new adoption center, now called the Arthur P. Girard Adoption Center.

In 2015, he donated Ram Island to UNE, to be used for marine biology research. The 1-acre island located 2 miles off the coast of Saco was described by Barry Costa-Pierce, chairman of UNE marine sciences department, as “kind of a marine biology dream” and a “living laboratory” from which to study ocean life.

East of Eden, an estate in Bar Harbor, was sold at auction Saturday. Courtesy Platinum Luxury Auctions

In 2016, Girard made “one of the largest philanthropic commitments in the university’s history,” the school said at the time, prompting it to name its new marine science facility after Girard.

East of Eden, a three-story, 28-room mansion, was designed by Boston architect Guy Lowell for Mr. and Mrs. Walter G. Ladd from New Jersey, who first named the property Eegonos, a backward spelling of their neighbor’s estate called Sonogee.

Sonogee, most recently used as a nursing home, was sold this year to Ocean Properties, Ltd., one of the two large hotel companies operating in Bar Harbor. The company has not announced plans for future uses of the property.

Built in 1910 and surviving the fire of 1947, East of Eden was used to house a French language immersion school for girls in the 1960s and early 1970s. The estate served as dormitory, dining hall, and classroom for the summer school, called L’Ecole Arcadie under the direction of property owner Richard Gott.

Prior to Girard, the most recent owners were the family of the late William B. Ruger Jr., CEO of the firearm company Sturm, Ruger & Co. Ruger had renovated the mansion extensively, and added the garage in 2008 to house his collection of antique cars.

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