Wyer Groves Sargent (1810-1900) was a descendant of the famous Sargent and Choate families and at the age of seven, arrived to the sparsely developed town of Sedgwick, Maine in 1817 with his parents. Twenty years later, Wyer has this house built in 1837. The original house was a one-story Cape house with a central chimney and an ell connected to a barn. He worked in the village of Sargentville in the town of Sedgwick as a merchant, operating a store, and traveling extensively to buy and sell goods along the New England coast. Operating a lucrative business allowed him to expand his outdated and cramped home in 1868 to the current configuration. It was then known as Maplehurst. Wyer raised the house and extended the front by adding a floor beneath it. When Wyer died in 1900 the house went to his daughter Martha Spooner. Martha sold it to Dr. Frederick Sweet. Last known, the home is still owned by Dr. Sweet’s great-granddaughter.
Sedgwick Public Library // c.1915
Nothing screams Maine architecture like weathered cedar shingles. The Sedgwick Public Library on Main Street was built in the early 20th century as a small village library to serve the small and seasonal population of the coastal town. The building is Craftsman in style in almost every feature. A broad hipped roof terminates with exposed rafters at the eaves, tuscan columns at the entry support the projecting portico, and a rubblestone foundation continues the composition of natural materials.
Luther G. Philbrook House // c.1850
This stately mansion on Main Street in Sedgwick, Maine, was built in the mid-19th century as one of three adjacent, near-identical homes. This house was purchased by Luther Groves Philbrook who appears to have “Victorianized” the formerly modest five-bay residence. He added a central tower, porch, and side addition. The home recently was listed for sale and has been decaying for years, here’s to hoping this old home gets restored.
Dr. Hagerthy House // c.1860
Dr. Rufus Hagerthy (1859-1933) was born in Surry, Maine to father, Daniel Hagerty (sic) a naturalized citizen in 1871 who hailed from County Kerry, Ireland and mother, Carrie. Rufus went to Bowdoin College where he completed his study of medicine in 1884. He moved back to Sedgwick, Maine and married Jane C. Holden (1861-1896), the couple lived in this home, which served as a home-base for Dr. Hagerthy to make house calls by horse or sleigh (depending on the weather). Dr. Hagerthy was eventually wealthy enough to get involved in real estate, and developed Byard’s Point in Sedgwick in 1909, the town’s first sub-division.
Riverside Hall // c.1860
Located across the street from the Sedgwick Baptist Church at 28 High Street, this modified Greek Revival style building in Sedgwick, Maine stopped me in my tracks. Sadly, I could find little on the building besides the fact that the building is absent from an 1860 map of Hancock County, but it appears in an 1881 map listed as “Hall”. The building exhibits flush siding which is scored to resemble ashlar/stone construction, overhanging eaves with a hipped roof which was common in the Italianate style, and a full-length one-story portico supported by square posts with applied Ionic detailing. That’s something I’ve never seen before! Upon a little more digging, I found a historic image of the building titled, “Riverside Hall”. The photograph shows a Second Empire style building with a mansard roof and cupola. The unique portico is shown as well. The local library lists the Riverside Hall as a community hall where events and gatherings were held. A fire destroyed the roof and much of the interior, but it was renovated and converted into a single-family home.
First Baptist Church of Sedgwick // 1837
Sedgwick, Maine is a coastal town overlooking the Penobscot Bay separating it from the better-known Deer Isle. The town was originally inhabited by the Wabanaki people. In the 18th century, land here was granted by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1761 to David Marsh and 359 others, and settlers began arriving and building homes here shortly after. In 1789, the town was incorporated as Sedgwick, named after Major Robert Sedgwick, who in 1654, captured nearby Fort Pentagouet from the French. The land in Sedgwick was very rocky and was thus better suited for grazing than cultivation. Because of the geology, for decades Sedgwick had operating many granite quarries, which shifted southward toward Stonington in later decades. The town then became a hub of seafaring professions, from ship-building to trading, to fishing and clam-digging. The town’s Baptist population established a congregation in 1794 as a Congregationalist organization which underwent a large-scale conversion to Baptistry in 1805. This congregation retained Bangor architect Benjamin S. Deane to design its church, which was built in 1837 in the Greek Revival style. Deane’s design is based on a drawing publisher by Asher Benjamin in his Practice of Architecture. The church had seen a dwindling congregation for decades until it was disbanded in 2008. The church was acquired by the Sedgwick-Brooklin Historical Society, who have begun a restoration of the building.
Aldrich House // c.1790
An unknown builder erected this Portsmouth house during the 1790s. Thomas D. Bailey lived here in 1836 when his grandson, Thomas Bailey Aldrich, was born up the street in the Laighton House (featured previously). Thomas Bailey Aldrich (1836-1907) became a revered American poet and author. Although he grew up in New Orleans and New York City, some of his fondest childhood memories were of the years 1849 to 1852 when he lived with his grandfather in this house. Later, from 1877 to 1883, the Society for the Benefit of Orphan and Destitute Children ran their Children’s Home in this building. Thomas Bailey Aldrich died on March 19, 1907. A few months later, on August 1, 1907, the Thomas Bailey Aldrich Memorial Association purchased this building, restored it to the time period when Aldrich was a boy here, and opened it as a memorial museum. The Aldrich House was acquired by Strawbery Banke museum in 1979, and it remains a historic house museum.
Reuben Shapley House // 1813
Captain Reuben Shapley (1750-1825) was a Portsmouth mariner, merchant, and shipbuilder born on the Isle of Shoals in 1750. He was married to Lydia Blaisdell Shapley, and they had one daughter, Nancy, who died in 1802 at the young age of 17. Shapley bought this house lot in 1790 and erected a barn or outbuilding on the lot, which was nextdoor to his main house. On the evening of August 13, 1811, a sailing ship owned by Captain Shapley, the Wonolanset, caught fire. According to Nathaniel Adams’ 1825 book, Annals of Portsmouth, the ship “had arrived from sea about an hour before, laden with hemp, cotton, molasses, naval stores and flour, and lay at Shapley’s Wharf.” Although townspeople tried to extinguish the blaze, the fire persisted, and they were forced to cut the vessel loose and let it drift safely out into the river and away from other vulnerable ships and warehouses. Captain Shapley’s loss was estimated at $12,000. After this, it appears Reuben got more involved in real estate, and either converted his old barn or built new, this house in 1813, Captain Shapley died in 1825, but the house continued as part of his estate until 1831. The house is now well-preserved and a part of Strawberry Banke’s campus in Portsmouth.
Wibird-Oracle House // 1702
One of the oldest extant houses in Portsmouth (and New England for that matter) is this gambrel-roofed Georgian house on Marcy Street. The home was originally constructed in 1702 by Richard Wibird, who arrived to Portsmouth in the late-1600s and married Elizabeth Due (Dew) in 1701. Mrs. Due owned a market in town, and that helped propel Richard to be a prosperous merchant. Like many very wealthy residents in New England at the time, he enslaved three Africans and had five properties all over town. The house was moved two times, it was originally built behind the North Meetinghouse on Market Square. It was moved from that location c.1800 to Haymarket Square where Prescott Park is now, and again in 1937 to its present location on Marcy Street. The Portsmouth Oracle, an early newspaper, was printed and edited from this building when it was altered for commercial spaces at the ground floor. The Prescott sisters who developed Prescott Park had the foresight to move this building to the opposite corner and the home was later restored, giving us a glimpse at early 18th century merchant housing.
Shapley Townhouses // 1815
The Shapley Townhouses in Portsmouth, New Hampshire sit on Court Street and were built around 1814-15, after the Great Portsmouth Fire of 1813 had destroyed the center of town. It was constructed to conform with the new Brick Law that required all new buildings in downtown Portsmouth to be built of “fireproof” brick. The paired townhouses are unusual in the city as a particularly well-preserved example of a Federal period double-house. The house was built by Captain Reuben Shapley, a ship’s captain and merchant. In about 1973, this building was remodeled into a temporary home and counseling center for troubled youth. Suffering from deferred maintenance and the direct proximity to the Strawberry Banke Museum, the Strawberry Banke Foundation purchased the double-house who rent out spaces inside to offices, providing a revenue stream to maintain and further showcase the history of the port town.