Cedarbrook Farm // 1792

Last up on our tour of Scandinavia (Denmark, Sweden and now Norway) Maine, is Norway. The town of Norway centers around Pennessewasse Lake, which supported native people in the region for thousands of years. It wasn’t until after the American Revolution that European settlers established the town. By 1789, a sawmill and gristmill were established, the first road was built in 1796, and the town of Norway was officially incorporated on March 9, 1797. Before incorporation, the township adopted the name Rustfield, to recognize the contributions of prominent landowner Henry Rust of Salem, Mass and the community once petitioned the Massachusetts General Court to be named Norage, meaning “falls” in the native peoples’ language. Norway won the name, but the origin of the town’s name remains unknown. The town leaned more towards industry than Denmark and Sweden due to the stronger rivers, and its population increased as a result.

This historic farmhouse sits on the eastern edge of Pennessewasse Lake and is one of the oldest extant homes in town. It was built in 1792 just years after land here was purchased by Nathaniel Bennett in 1790. Nathaniel and Elizabeth Bennett resided in the home until they died, childless. The home was eventually purchased by Don Carlos Seitz, publisher of the New York World, who grew up and was educated in town. Seitz operated the property as a gentleman’s farm, and is responsible for naming the property “Cedarbrook Farm”. His estate sold the property to one of his hired hands in 1927. It remains very well preserved and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996 as the Nathaniel and Elizabeth Bennett House.

Nevers-Bennett Farmhouse // c.1820+

In 1820, just seven years after the incorporation of Sweden Maine, a homesteader, Amos Parker purchased fifty acres of land and began to erect a two-story, Federal house with a center chimney and a detached store beside it. Plagued by debt, Parker sold the unfinished house to Samuel Nevers circa 1833–1835, who purchased the property with the store for his recently married son, Benjamin. By 1860, Benjamin Nevers had a successful store and prospering farmstead. Benjamin died in 1883, and in the next two years, their daughter Charlotte, and her husband, Charles Bennett, dramatically remodeled and modernized the farmstead, adding a connected two-story ell building outward from the main house toward the old 1840 barn, connecting the entire property. I believe that the property remains in the Nevers-Bennett Family, as recently, Steve and Judy Bennett, recently negotiated an easement with the Maine Farmland Trust to protect their hay, beef, and maple sugaring acreage as farmland into the future.

Nevers Blacksmith Shop // c.1860s

While architecturally significant mansions, churches and civic buildings are great, the smaller wood-frame buildings such as this really tell the story of New England. When the town of Sweden, Maine was still in her infancy, the Nevers Family helped to establish the town and diversify its output from the typical agricultural village. Sweden supported an interesting variety of nineteenth century businesses including: general stores, saw mills, copper and cobbler shops, and a straw hat factory. The town of Sweden was distanced from major trade routes, railroads and navigable rivers, so it saw a period of decline from the late 19th to the 20th century. The town has since been a sort of “bedroom community” where people mostly live, but travel outside the town for commerce and work. This blacksmith shop shows us an example of a trade that has largely gone away, but it was a common structure and profession in early America.

Sweden Free Meetinghouse // 1826

Just a short flight (erh I mean drive) from Denmark, you’ll find Sweden… Maine. Sweden is one of three towns of Oxford County Maine, named after Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Norway & Sweden). Sweden was once territory of the Abenaki tribe who fled to Canada during the Dummer’s War. Present-day Sweden was first colonized in 1794 by Colonel Samuel Nevers from Burlington, Mass. After the Revolutionary War, where he served, Samuel was given a large tract of land in Maine. The town separated from Lovell and became known as Sweden, likely due the . THe started to clear his lumber on his land, and he returned several times a year to his home in Burlington, Mass. for supplies. In 1796, his friend Benjamin Webber joined him and Samuel gave his friend some land for his assistance. Upon his last visit back to Burlington in 1796, he took his bride Esther Trull by horseback, making the 180-mile journey within 24 hours, a record time for this era. The Nevers cleared out land, laid out roads, and built the earliest civic buildings in the fledgling town, including the town’s Free Meetinghouse seen here in 1826. This building has served as a townhouse, community church, schoolhouse, and grange hall. The building was largely rebuilt in the 1860s, giving it the vernacular Greek Revival appearance we see today.

‘Mountain Aqua’ // c.1882

Located near the base of Pleasant Mountain in Denmark, Maine, you’ll find this stunning Victorian house, possibly the best example of Queen Anne architecture in town. Down the dirt road, you can imagine how shocked I was to stumble upon this beauty set back off the road, overlooking the White Mountains in the distance. The house was built around 1882 for the Warren Family, descendants of one of the first settlers in the town. Caleb Warren Jr., is likely responsible for this house, which served as a base lodge for the hotel once located at the summit. In 1845, Caleb Sr. built the first guesthouse atop the 2,200′ mountain, which was purchased just years later by a Joseph A. Sargent. Sargent converted the old hotel into a bowling alley and built a new hotel at the summit. That structure burned to the ground, and was replaced in 1873. The buildings at the summit were eventually purchased and demolished by 1908 when the mountain was sold to the Appalachian Mountain Club. Mountain Aqua would have served as a base lodge for the mountaintop hotel, and was a place where visitors could depart by foot or wagon to the summit. Mountain Aqua appears to be a single-family home today.

Denmark Odd Fellows Hall – Denmark Arts Center // 1884

This two-and-a-half-story building sits on Main Street in the small town of Denmark, Maine, and has contributed to the town’s cultural life since it was built in 1884. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) is a non-political and non-sectarian international fraternal group that promotes the ethic of reciprocity and charity. It was founded in 1819 by Thomas Wildey in Baltimore, Maryland, evolving from the Order of Odd Fellows founded in England during the 1700s. New buildings sprouted up all over the United States in the 19th century, in cities as large as New York City and towns as small as Denmark. This IOOF Hall is Italianate in style, with brackets at the cornice and hoods and round arched windows in the gable end; it also shows some Greek Revival details with corner pilasters and the pediment. When Raymond Hale, the last member of the IOOF Lodge passed away, the town purchased the old Odd Fellows Hall. The city could not maintain the property and had no good use for it. Residents in town voted in 1991 to sell the building rather than demolish it. Local residents bid on and won the building with the aim to convert it to a local arts center. In August 1994 the owners signed over the deed of the Odd Fellows Hall to the Denmark Arts Center, a non profit organization. From that time until present, the old building, now the Denmark Arts Center, has again served as a community focal point, providing cultural activities for the people of Denmark and surrounding towns.

Ingalls Homestead // c.1794

Cyrus Ingalls (1768-1832) moved to the wilderness of Maine from his relative comfort in Andover, MA at the end of the 18th century. When he arrived to Maine (which was part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts until 1820), he built a grist mill on Moose Brook in what is now known as Denmark, Maine. Not far away, he built his homestead, a modest 1 1/2-story cape house on the newly laid Main Street where he raised his family. In the home, Cyrus had at least two sons, Cyrus Jr., who would inherit the homestead, and Rufus, who later served as Quartermaster General of the Union Army during the Civil War. After Cyrus’ death in 1832, the property was completely overhauled by Cyrus, Jr., who built a massive Greek Revival mansion likely in the 1840s or 50s, incorporating the former homestead as an ell (seen on the right in the image). The homestead remains an extremely significant architectural and historical landmark in this part of Maine, and is located across from the town’s Civil War Monument, possibly bankrolled by the Ingalls Family.

Boothby House // 1870

The Second Empire style did not take off in Maine as it did in other parts of New England (and the U.S. for that matter), so it’s always a treat to spot one driving the backroads of the Pine Tree State! This house in Denmark, Maine, was built around 1870 for E. A. Boothby, who worked as Assistant Engineer of the Maine Central Railroad. The Second Empire style is evident here from the mansard (French style) roof, bracketed eaves, and a hooded double-door entry.

Denmark Old Schoolhouse // c.1850

Welcome to Scandinavia of Maine, Oxford County! The rural county is home to towns named Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, but no Finland sadly! The land that is now known as Denmark, Maine, was once part of Pequawket, a village of the Sokokis Abenaki tribe. In 1725 during Dummer’s War, the village was attacked and the tribe abandoned the area fleeing to Canada. Settlers established a township with many settlers coming from Andover, Mass. The town was incorporated as Denmark in 1807, and named in a show of solidarity with the country of Denmark, after England attacked Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen that year. The town was mostly agricultural, with some industry along the ponds and the Saco River. The town saw a boost in popularity in the early 20th century as a location for summer camps, including Camp Wyonegonic, founded 1902, which is the oldest girls’ camp in the country.

This building in Denmark Village appears to have been constructed in the mid-19th century as the village school. The vernacular Greek Revival building has very tall, multi-paned windows, Greek Revival trim, and modest proportions which really are pleasing to look at. It shows up on an 1880 map as “Old School House”, and appears to be a private home today. Stay tuned for more on the Scandinavian towns of Maine!

George G. Hall Stables // 1895

Many of the buildings along Byron Street in Boston were built in the mid-19th century as stables for wealthy residents of the Beacon Hill and Back Bay. Three similar private stables were constructed in 1865 for owners, but all three were purchased by George Gardner Hall, a wealthy hotelier and developer in Boston. Gardner demolished the three stables in 1895 and hired Boston architect William Whitney Lewis to furnish plans for a more stately stable building. The Romanesque Revival stable featured an entrance and exit set within the large Syrian arches on the facade. The building featured stalls for horses, a carriage room, harness room, and office on the ground floor, with storage space for hay, sleeping chambers for stable-hands, and living room with kitchen. The building allowed for wealthy residents to rent space for their horses if they didn’t have a stable of their own. The stable also likely provided carriages to Hall’s hotel downtown. A developer purchased the building after attempts were made in the 20th century to convert the building into a private auto garage. In the 1960s, he hired local architect Goody & Clancy Associates, who renovated the building, restoring the exterior and converted it into three housing units. There are three stone medallions on the facade that read “G.G.H” “No. 13” and “1895” which keep the stable’s history alive.