‘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.

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!

Penobscot County Jail // 1869

Located just off Main Street in Bangor, the Penobscot County Jail building sits far off the street but stands out for its architectural design. The county jail building was designed in 1869 when the previous prison, built in the 1830s, proved inadequate. Designed by Boston architect Gridley J.F. Bryant, (who designed Charlestown’s prison that same year) the jail has somewhat of a dual personality architecturally speaking. The gracious street-facing section is constructed in the Italianate style, and housed the jail keeper and allowed the building to blend into the stylish and handsome neighborhood of downtown Bangor. The building is constructed of warm red brick with stone embellishments. Behind the jail-keeper’s house, the more severely modeled prison is constructed of granite and is more fortress-like, even though it’s much more appealing than modern prisons. The chronically overcrowded jail will likely be repurposed for a new building, but here is to hoping the county preserves this historic building for other uses!

Thomas A. Hill House // 1836

One of the nicest homes in Bangor, Maine, is the 1836 Thomas Hill House, a stunning Greek Revival home constructed of brick just outside downtown. The home was built for Thomas A. Hill (1783-1864), a lawyer and banker in town. He clearly made substantial money in his time in Bangor, because he hired architect Richard Upjohn, who was in town at the time overseeing designs for his first church St. John’s Episcopal Church (burned in 1911) and the Farrar Mansion. Thomas Hill suffered financial losses during the Panic of 1837 and the bank foreclosed on his properties. The bank allowed him to stay in the house and pay the insurance, heat and taxes until the home was sold by the bank to Samuel and Matilda Dale, who purchased the home in 1846. Mr. Dale came to Bangor in 1833 as a sail-maker. Eventually he would own grocery and ship chandlery businesses downtown before serving as Mayor of Bangor from 1863-1866 and again in 1871. The Sons of Union Veterans bought the house in 1942 and named it the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial. During 1952 the Bangor Historical Society was allowed to use the house, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. In 1974 the house was deeded to the Bangor Historical Society, who occupy the home to this day.

Frost-Burpee House // 1847

One of the largest homes I found in Bangor, Maine, was this Queen Anne stunner on High Street, just outside Downtown. After doing some research, I learned that the house was built in 1847 for Oliver Frost, a businessman involved in the lumber business. The home was likely Greek Revival in style based on the time period of the home and nearby houses. Frost is probably best known for his 1869 quote “The time may soon arrive when the three great cities of North America — Bangor, New York, and San Francisco — shall be representatives of the wealth, population, intelligence, and enterprise of the eastern, central and western divisions of our country.” He believed that the lucrative timber industry which led Bangor to become known as the “lumber capital of the world.” The city was home to numerous “lumber barons” and the river was often “jam packed with timber and lumber”. Even the nickname “Queen City of the East” evoked the era’s prosperity. Henry David Thoreau remarked, in 1846, that Bangor was “overflowing with the luxuries and refinement of Europe.” After his quote, the city began a period of decline, when the timber industry moved westward to the Great Lakes region and later, the Pacific Northwest. Frost’s home was later purchased by Egerton R Burpee, an engineer who worked in railroads. He hired Boston architect Arthur H. Vinal, to upgrade and enlarge the house in the then fashionable Queen Anne style we see today. The home has since been converted to commercial use with apartments inside.

Bangor House // 1832

In the first couple decades of the 1800s, Bangor, Maine, became the capital of the timberlands of the state, as thousands of acres of untouched forests were sold for lumber harvesting and shipping to other developing parts of the region. The massive cedar trees were shipped by rail and boat to cities like Boston, which lacked such large lumber. At the time, a group of wealthy lumbermen in Bangor wanted a hotel which would impress investors and visitors to the frontier town. Inspired by The Tremont House in Boston, an 1829 hotel that was then regarded as one of the pinnacles of luxury accommodation. The investors hired architect Isaiah Rogers, the same architect who designed the Tremont House years earlier, to design the Bangor House. The two hotels are strikingly similar in design. The hotel expanded numerous times over the decades, until the 20th century, when the town’s prosperity began to falter. Many of the additions have since been torn down as part of the building’s conversion to apartments, replaced by modern residential wings which are much lesser quality of design and construction. Thankfully, the historic core of Bangor House remains very well preserved and as it did nearly 200 years ago!

Zebulon Smith House // 1832

The Zebulon Smith House in Bangor is one of the earliest temple-front Greek Revival homes built in the state of Maine. The house was constructed in 1832 for Zebulon Smith, a businessman who moved to the Maine frontier in the early 19th century, likely to get involved with a lumberyard as this section of the state shipped timber all over the region. The substantial home was built just south of downtown Bangor, and has survived fire and urban renewal. It sits alone in a sea of parking lots and industrial buildings in what was once likely a lovely neighborhood.

Adams-Pickering Block // 1871

Main Street USA! I just love historic Main Streets and Downtowns in New England, so many are full of old buildings and were designed for pedestrians, not cars (though some towns and villages have definitely caved to the automobile). Erected in 1871, the Adams-Pickering Block building was one of several grand, mansard roofed commercial structures which local architect George W. Orff designed for Bangor’s business district in the 1870’s. With its first-story cast iron front and its granite facade, from stone quarried nearby in Hallowell, Maine, the Adams-Pickering Block and its similar contemporaries were the most sophisticated Victorian commercial buildings in Eastern Maine. The Bangor Fire of 1911 and subsequent urban change, especially urban renewal in 1968, destroyed most of the city’s nineteenth century business district. The Adams-Pickering Block is a rare survivor and shows us how old buildings at a human scale can create vibrant, people-centric places.