Yet another of the large summer “cottages” in the Cape Arundel Summer Colony of Kennebunkport is this stunning eclectic home, built in 1899 for Edwin Packard of New York. As a young man, Edwin married Julia Hutchinson and would soon amass an ample fortune. He became European buyer for A.T. Stewart & Co. In 1889 he came President of the Franklin Trust Company, resigning in 1892 to become President of the New York Guaranty and Indemnity Company. He was a Director of the Franklin Safe Deposit Company, the American Writing Paper Company, the Fajardo Sugar Company and the Brooklyn YMCA, and a member of the New York Chamber of Commerce. Busy man! From his wealth, he sought solitude and relaxation in Kennebunkport, hiring Maine architect John Calvin Stevens to design this cottage for his family to retreat to for summers away from the city. The Shingle style and Colonial Revival style house features a prominent gambrel roof, Palladian windows, and bay windows, all covering a sweeping front porch.
Glen Cottage // c.1850
Not all of Kennebunkport’s summer “cottages” are grand, Shingle style mansions… Glen Cottage was originally built in c.1850 as a Greek Revival style cape house. As the town developed into a desirable summer colony for wealthy residents of Boston, New York and Philadelphia, the small cottage caught the eye of a Ms. Garrard. Margaret Garrard purchased Glen Cottage in 1900 and hired Maine architect William Barry to transform the old cape, adding the dormers, octagonal bay, and door hood. Here, she ran the Bonnie Brig Tearoom for twenty years. Tea houses were important social centers for wealthy summer residents Later owners renamed the tea house, “The Old Tree Tea Tavern” and “Periwinkle” but in 1926, the name reverted to The Bonnie Brig Tearoom. Today, the cottage has reverted back to residential use with the owners lovingly maintaining the old cape.
Nesmith-Kent Cottage // 1891
One of the most iconic summer “cottages” in Kennebunkport’s late 19th-early 20th century summer colony is the Nesmith-Kent Cottage, located next door to the often photographed St. Ann’s-by-the-Sea summer chapel. The cottage was built for Julia and Mary Nesmith, the daughters of John Nesmith a wealthy industrialist and textile manufacturer from Lowell MA. The sisters named the cottage “The Pebbles”, and spent their first night there on July 24, 1891. The half-timbered shingled house stood at the edge of the ocean near a former War of 1812 fortification. The sisters sold the property in 1910 to Arthur Atwater Kent, prominent radio manufacturer based in Philadelphia, who invented the modern form of the automobile ignition coil. Kent renovated the cottage extensively, increasing its size, and renamed “The Pebbles”, “At Water’s Edge” in a cheeky play on his last name. In 1919, he expanded again, purchasing a lot adjacent to his mansion which was the old fort constructed to protect the ships moored in the harbor during the War of 1812. In early 1919, workmen uncovered a few bones of what was calculated to be a seven-foot-tall man and two skulls of white men that had clearly met their end at the hands of Native people; one pierced by an arrow and the other scalped. The Kennebunkport Historical Society has one of these skulls in their collections. Today, the Nesmith-Kent Cottage is owned by the St. Ann’s-by-the-Sea congregation as their rectory.
The Dome Home // 2003
This past weekend, I was lucky enough to stay at one of the most unique Airbnb’s in New England, the Dome Home in idyllic Kennebunkport, Maine! The house itself was hand-built in 2003 by trained architect and sculptor Daphne Pulsifer with her husband Daniel Bates, on 43-acres of forest just miles from the iconic Maine beaches. Inside, the house features numerous custom touches designed and built by the original owners, including light fixtures, floor tiling, hand-built oak doors, wall tiling, woodwork — much of it claimed from the property itself. The Dome Home is completely sustainable with solar panels providing all the power needed, making the property completely off-the-grid. The original owners sold the property in 2022 to the new owners who have lovingly updated the spaces, keeping the charm and unique qualities of the Dome. If you are ever in Kennebunkport and are looking for a unique, off-the-grid stay with all of the amenities of modern living, definitely check out the Dome!
The Floats // 1900
Newton Booth Tarkington (1869–1946) was an American author best known for his novels The Magnificent Ambersons (1918) and Alice Adams (1921). He is one of only four novelists to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and was considered the greatest living American author in much of the 1910s and 1920s. While he was born and grew up in Indiana, “Booth” eventually fell in love with the coast of Maine, and built a home in the charming village of Kennebunkport. In Kennebunkport, he was well known as a sailor, and his schooner, the Regina, survived him. Regina was moored next to Tarkington’s boathouse this building, which was named “The Floats” which he also used as his studio. The building was constructed in 1900 as a shop to build ships. He purchased the building, preserving it for generations to come. After his death, the boathouse and studio were converted into the Kennebunkport Maritime Museum. The building appears to now be a private residence, perched above the harbor. How charming!
Oliver Walker House // c.1809
The Oliver Walker House in Kennebunkport Village is one of the better examples that shows how overlapping architectural styles can work really well on an old house (when done right)! The original house was constructed around 1809 for Oliver Walker (1788-1851), a sea captain who later accepted the call and became a deacon for the South Congregational Church in Kennebunkport. Walker died in 1851 and the Federal style property was inherited by his only surviving child, daughter Susan, who had married Portland native, Captain John Lowell Little. Under their ownership, the traditionally designed Federal house was modernized with fashionable Italianate style modifications of the decorative brackets and an enclosed round arched window in the side gable. A later Colonial Revival projecting vestibule adds to the complex, yet pleasing design. I have a feeling the interiors of this house are just as spectacular as the exterior.
Samuel’s Stairs // 1810
Houses with unique names are always the most fun to research and post! This stately Federal style mansion in Kennebunkport was built in 1810 for Samuel Lewis (1777-1857), a cabinetmaker and carpenter in town. Lewis also worked as an undertaker and made glass-top coffins from 1801, until his death. It is estimated that Mr. Lewis made 2,500 coffins during his career – including his own. Samuel was a quirky character and built his home as a large addition to a 1762 home, which possibly remains today as an ell. The 1810 house with original transom and sidelights at the entrance was two stories as built which contained a spiral staircase that ended on the second floor at a skylight. Thus, the house became known locally as “Samuel’s Stairs.” A later owner added the third floor, but maintained the Federal proportions. SWOON!
Lord-Gould House // 1799
Believe it or not, this stunning Federal mansion in Kennebunkport was a marriage present! When Phebe Walker married Nathaniel Lord in 1797, Phebe’s father, Daniel had this home built for the new couple. Phebe and Nathaniel had a total of nine children before Mr. Lord died in 1815 at 38 years old. Before his death, the wealthy couple used part of their property to erect a larger home, which is now known as the Nathaniel Lord Mansion. The couple sold the property, and it was owned for some time by Captain Alden B. Day, who passed it down to his daughter Nellie and her husband, William Gould. The property remained in the Day-Gould family until 2017. The house is very well-preserved and looks much like it would have appeared when built in 1799 besides the later entry added in the mid-19th century.
Benjamin Coes House – “Tory Chimneys” // c.1785
One of the hidden architectural gems of Kennebunkport is this Revolutionary-era house with some serious proportions. The house was built around 1785 by Benjamin Coes, a sailmaker from Marblehead, who settled in the burgeoning Kennebunkport in search of new work and opportunities. He married Sarah Durrell and the couple erected the seventh house in town, which is part of this property. For his work, Mr. Coes used the first two floors as his residence and the third floor was used as a sail loft, with an exterior staircase. A young boy, Joseph Brooks, would work in the loft and he would go on to marry Benjamin’s daughter, Sarah. The couple inherited the family house and retired here. The property was sold out of the Coes-Brooks Family when Maine State Historian, Henry Sweetser Burrage and his wife Ernestine purchased this house in 1917, which would be used as a guest house. The couple and lived in the house across the street. Ernestine Burrage, who was Chairperson of the Kennebunkport Chapter of the Red Cross, allowed the ladies of her chapter to gather there three times a week to roll bandages for the soldiers injured in battles overseas. It became the headquarters for the Kennebunkport Red Cross. It was likely Ernestine who had the chimneys painted white, which resembled the old Tory Chimneys in Revolutionary-era New England; where, when painted white, they served as a quiet signal which indicated that a home’s residents were loyal subjects of the British Crown.
John Bourne House // c.1800
John Bourne (1759-1837) was born in Wells, Maine as the son of Benjamin Bourne. When the American Revolution hit a peak, when he was only sixteen years of age, John enlisted in the service of the country, and marched in company of Capt. Thomas Sawyer, to Lake Champlain. After the war, he learned the trade of shipbuilding and established himself in Kennebunkport, at the height of the village’s manufacturing. John Bourne built ships for a wealthy ship-owner and became successful himself. Bourne was married three times. His first wife, Abigail Hubbard (m.1783) died at just 24 years old after giving him three children. He remarried Sally Kimball a year later, who died in her twenties at just 28, she birthed one son for him in that time. His third wife, Elizabeth, would outlive John, and they had five children together. After his marriage with Elizabeth, John likely had this home built, possibly from his own hands. The Federal style home stands out for the unique entry with blind fan and modified Palladian window framed by engaged pilasters.