12 Historical Facts About the TMF Property

SSG Travis Mills: 12th Alive Day Celebration

Help the Travis Mills Foundation celebrate the 12th Alive Day of U.S. Army SSG (Ret.) Travis Mills on April 10, 2024. We’re so grateful for all that Travis has accomplished in the 12 years since a life-changing injury inspired him to give back to fellow post-911 recalibrated veterans and their families. 

Kicking off March 30 and continuing the next 12 days, the Travis Mills Foundation will feature the No. 12 and elements of the Travis Mills Foundation, the Retreat, and more!

In honor of this special milestone, we need YOUR SUPPORT to help us raise $12K in recognition of the past 12 incredible and inspiring years! Please consider a donation to show your support and gratitude for Travis’s 12th Alive Day, ALL to support our nation’s heroes served at the Foundation.

12 Historical Facts About the TMF Property

1. In 1929, Elizabeth Arden bought a 750-acre property in Mt. Vernon, Maine, what is currently the property of the Travis Mills Foundation, naming it Maine Chance Farm. Arden was a legendary innovator and a tireless entrepreneur, establishing the American beauty industry. Born Florence Nightingale Graham, she traveled from rural Canada to New York City, where she opened the first Red Door salon on Fifth Avenue in 1910.

2. Arden planted magnificent gardens on the property in the colors of red, white and blue, chosen to represent the United States – a fitting precursor for how the property is used today by the Travis Mills Foundation. TMF’s head chef even uses the fruit from Arden’s original apple trees, planted alongside the Main House.

3. In 1934, Arden was inspired to open up Maine Chance to patrons of the Red Door Salon in NYC. She promised women of a certain class that they could improve their lives by enhancing their looks through exercise, beauty treatments, and dieting. Arden’s genius was to marry the work this regimen demanded with luxury — diet meals served on fine china — and with Maine’s reputation for healthful beauty. Arden invested $200K in the project.

4. In 1970, Maine Chance Spa closed after a fire destroyed the spa treatment center. The cause of the fire stemmed from heat remaining on under the wax for Arden’s signature “Ardena bath,” in which a guest’s body was encased in 9 pounds of melted paraffin wax to encourage weight loss.

5. When the Travis Mills Foundation began transforming Arden’s former property into a Retreat for veterans, construction workers uncovered a previously undiscovered tennis court.

Post-911 recalibrated veterans use the court today for wheelchair basketball, pickle ball and more.

6. The Main House on the property (its building supervised by Elisabeth Marberry, friend and mentor to Arden and fellow property owner in Mt. Vernon), was preserved when the Travis Mills Foundation set out to build a Retreat house for veterans. The entire building was lifted off the ground in order to add a basement to the original footprint.

7. Elizabeth Arden kept horses, including a Kentucky Derby winning horse, on the Maine Chance property.

8. On the Maine Chance Spa property, a bowling alley existed for when guests weren’t busy being treated to luxury beauty services, dance and exercise sessions, and more!

9. Arden’s signature Red Door Salon on Fifth Avenue in New York City is where it all began. Arden intended for the color to catch people’s attention; it also became a symbol for female independence in the early 1900s. The Retreat has kept the signature red door as an homage to Arden.

10. Elizabeth Arden and her husband both had suite-like rooms on the second floor of Maine Chance Spa. The rooms are now reserved for larger families who visit the Travis Mills Foundation Veterans Retreat.

11. The Arden estate once included a carousel, swimming pool, private sunbathing enclosure, riding stables, a boathouse and even a bowling alley!

12. In the evenings, Arden’s spa guests made up their faces with Arden cosmetics, put on gowns and jewels, and were chauffeured to the Arden house to sip mocktails of vegetables juice, followed by a lean dinner and games of bridge.