One of the larger Shingle style homes in Kennebunkport, Inglesea Cottage, was designed in 1889, possibly by Henry Paston Clark, who designed or worked on many homes and buildings in the summer colony. The original owner, Dr. George Frederick Brooks, a doctor based out of New York, who spent his childhood on the coast of Maine, and decided to spend his elderly summers there. By 1903, the home was purchased by Ms. Lucy Fay (1864-1937) of Fitchburg, MA, who hired Henry P. Clark, to add the cross gambrel addition to enlarge the home. Lucy Fay was the daughter of the the wealthy industrialist George Flagg Fay and his wife, Emily Upton, and upon their deaths, inherited their fortune (her sister died at just seven years old, making her an only child). The home remains in impeccable shape and is a head-turner everytime I drive down the coast.
One of the larger hotels in Kennebunkport, the Colonial Revival Colony Hotel, built in 1914, provides historic charm with views of the Kennebunk River and Atlantic Ocean. Owner Ruel W. Norton had the new hotel built on the site of the Ocean Bluff Hotel (1873, burned 1898), to attract summer people, many of which stayed for months at a time. The Colony was originally called Breakwater Court until 1947, when George Boughton purchased Breakwater Court and changed the name to The Colony Hotel to complement their Florida property, The Colony Hotel in Delray Beach Florida. The hotel was designed by John Calvin Stevens, who lived in Maine and designed an estimated 1000+ buildings in the state, many of which in the Shingle or Colonial Revival styles.
One of the jewels of the Cape Arundel summer cottages in Kennebunkport is the Rock Ledge Cottage, sited prominently on a hill overlooking the Atlantic. Rock Ledge was a cottage built in 1887 for Elon Dunbar Lockwood (1836-1891) of Philadelphia. Lockwood was a merchant who started a dry goods business with his brother, forming W. E. & E. W. Lockwood. Elon became a highly respected businessman in Philadelphia and later became a member of the Committee of Fifty, a group formed to devise measures for the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia which would showcase the city for the first ever World’s Exposition in the United States. Elon’s wife Elizabeth died in 1884, and a couple years later, he had this summer cottage built, where he would apparently entertain, giving him the designation as a womanizer until his death in 1891 at the age of 54. The cottage was designed by William Ralph Emerson, one of the busiest architects in New England at the time, with commissions all over the region, including many summer cottages in Maine.
In the late 1800s, many coastal New England communities – including Kennebunkport – became summer resort towns and colonies for upper and middle class families. To accommodate families, who would arrive to these small towns by the train-load, many wealthy citizens constructed luxury hotels which offered longer term stays compared to what we think of hotels today.
The Nonantum Resort in Kennebunkport was named from a Native American word meaning ‘blessing’ or ‘prayer’, but has become synonymous with ‘family’, the word was chosen as the building was believed to have been constructed on land where Native Americans traded with early settlers. Opened on the Fourth of July in 1884, the hotel was constructed for Captain Henry Heckman, the original owner. The building was a fairly modest, late Italianate design until alterations and additions in the 1890s added a Colonial Revival motif, with pilasters capped with Corinthian capitals and cartouches; however, many features have been removed.
This Greek Revival home was built around 1848 for Thomas Maling, a rigger (person who installs the system of ropes and chains for a ships mast and sails). The home is built upon a raised brick foundation, likely to elevate it from the rising and receding nature of the Kennebunk River just across the street. By the 1890s, the home was converted to an inn, known as the Maling’s Inn, after the original owner. Today, the inn is known as the Old River House. On the lot, the old rigging loft remains and has been converted on the inside as additional rooms.
What is known today as the public library of Kennebunkport, the Louis T. Graves Memorial Library was not always used for books and learning. Built in 1813 as a branch office of the Kennebunk National Bank, the brick structure was valuable as a local bank for the growing port neighborhood. By 1831, the Kennebunk Bank’s charter was revoked and they sold their branch location to the U.S. Government as a Customs House (the second floor was already partially occupied as a Customs House). By the end of the 19th century, the second floor was leased out to the Kennebunkport Public Library. The Customs District was eliminated in 1913, and by 1920, the building was acquired by Mr. and Mrs. Abbott Graves, who purchased the property at auction for $1,350., the couple lived just a couple blocks away in a rare Prairie style home. In 1921, the Graves family deeded the property to the Library Association on the condition that the Library be named in memory of their deceased son Louis T. Graves who valued books all his life.
If you stroll down Maine Street in Kennebunkport, you cant help but notice the most charming saltbox house. Constructed in 1805 by Samuel Davis, a master builder in Kennebunkport, the Federal home likely had a saltbox roof originally which would have housed the kitchen. After the Civil War, the home was owned by Silas Perkins, who then sold the home to his daughter, Felicia (Perkins) Cleaves and her husband, Albert, a teacher. By the 1870s, Felicia had the Colonial home completely renovated, turning into a Gothic Revival showpiece. Mrs. Cleaves added a new wing to the right of the original house, for she desired the high ceilings that were common during the Victorian era. The building became known in town as “Aunt Felicia’s Folly” and alternately, “the Witch House.” In 1966, owners restored the home back to what it likely looked like before the 1870s renovation, adding a saltbox roof.
Built in 1824, the South Church in Kennebunkport Village looked very much as it does today, with the exception of the portico, which was added in 1912. In the early 19th century, architects were seldom employed in such remote areas therefore, builders often used manuals and examples of other churches in addition to their own experience gained from working the large shipbuilding yards adjacent to the Kennebunk River. The cupola, restored in 1991, is designed after an example by Christopher Wren and the steeple retains the original 1824 Aaron Willard clock with its unique wooden face, still keeps accurate time and rings on the hour. The church remains as an active space with a growing congregation in the summer months.
A happy blending of Mission, Colonial Revival and Shingle Styles for the Maine coastal community of Kennebunkport, the St. Martha’s Catholic Church exemplifies the charm of this town. The church is sited on a corner lot with a belfry at its corner. The nave features a central entry with Colonial pilasters and pediment above the second floor windows. The roofline is shaped with Mission style parapet walls and arched openings at the tower, showcasing the Spanish influence in the design. The entire building is wrapped with cedar shingles, as a nod to the coastal summer resort it resides. The church operated here until the mid-late 20th century when it was converted to an art gallery, and now is home to condos.
Located in the Cape Arundel Summer colony in Kennebunkport, this Shingle style cottage, built in 1887 sits perched on a hill with views of the Atlantic Ocean. Built for John Bach McMaster, a historian who was also a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, the house was the first of two he owned in Kennebunkport, where he summered. The son of a former Mississippi plantation owner, McMaster grew up in New York City and worked his way through the City College of New York. Although he obtained a degree in civil engineering in 1873, he was deeply interested in American history. He worked briefly as a civil engineer in Virginia and Chicago in 1873, but he returned to New York the following year and earned a meagre living by tutoring.
McMaster was appointed assistant professor of civil engineering at Princeton University in 1877. Meanwhile, he planned to write a broad-scale history of the United States. In the summer of 1878 he led an expedition to the American West, an experience that impressed on him the pioneers’ efforts and the need for a social history of the West. His inspiration materialized in 1881 with the completion of the first chapter of A History of the People of the United States from the Revolution to the Civil War. The earnings from the series gave him substantial wealth and he then bought a summer residence up in Maine seen here.
If anyone knows the architect of this house, please share!