Traveling to the Maine coast is a practice in slowing down the pace of life. Driving north up Interstate 95, you cross the Piscataqua River Bridge and the scent of pine magically strengthens on the other side. Merge onto I-295 and it’s hard to not break the speed limit.

The destination is Rock Gardens, a 4.6-acre property on an idyllic peninsula just over an hour’s drive from Portland. For over a century it has operated as an art school and inn, harboring anyone seeking respite from the pressures of the wider world. Notably, it was the home of painter Will Barnet’s (1911-2012) seasonal studio.

Soon you’ll turn off to Route 1. Slow down. When you begin to wind down the peninsula, windows wind down too. Take a breath. By the time you reach the property, the car idles itself into place.

Rock Gardens belongs to a bygone era of Maine summers, when eminent American artists and writers found sanctuary and inspiration on the rocky coast. Now, with even more everyday stimuli, it is one of the few places where people can truly “check out.” You can watch the sun rise and set over the granite shores, and pick seasonal snacks off of the apple and pear trees, high and low bush blueberries and raspberries.

The classic, shingled cottages and single-family home are well-constructed buildings that have weathered hurricanes, snowstorms and generations of returning families. Barnet’s granddaughter, Ellie Barnet, has carried on the family tradition of painting at the property in the summers. Her recent works are a reflection of this special place.

Beside the moody, rolling North Atlantic, quotidian life becomes smaller and the meaning of each moment grows deeper. When you step out of the car, your phone stays put in the console. Not on purpose, it’s just that the sunlight is caught in the briny sea air and the glow of a screen has nothing on this radiance. You walk across the lawns to the sea, stepping out of the unrelenting stream of modern life’s activities.

The next owner of this property will be the steward of their own, private “Brigadoon,” a place out of time, with nearby hiking, beaches and conservation land. Find detailed information at

Rock Gardens is listed at $4,250,000 by Chessell McGee of Keller Williams Luxury International. Please contact Chessell at 207-272-8575 or


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