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Rock Rest, Kittery, c. 1946-1957

Date listed: 1/24/2008

Criterion A: Ethnic Heritage/Black, Entertainment/Recreation, Social History Statewide significance.

Rock Rest was a summer guest house owned by the Sinclair family in Kittery Point, Maine that offered accommodations, fine dining, and excursions, to African American tourists for three decades after World War II. As one of only a few African American guest houses in the state, Rock Rest enjoyed considerable success and attracted vacationers from across the country. In response to demand the Sinclair’s expanded their home and added guest quarters in a separate building, eventually achieving the capacity to house up to sixteen guests at a time. In addition to the modest buildings, the property retains period furnishings, as well as extensive documentary materials, including correspondence, guest registers, and photographs relating to the business between 1946 and 1977. Taken together, Rock Rest provides the opportunity to holistically evaluate patterns of African American economy, travel and tourism in the post war years. Rock Rest was entered into the National Register of Historic Places as an exceptionally complete and well documented example of a type of lodging that catered to African American tourists in the years before they were guaranteed equal access to eating and sleeping accommodations by law.