Ellen Kemble (Bartol) Brazier was born in New York City in 1844, the eldest of four children of Barnabas and Emma Bartol. Her father had many business interests in sugar refining and the family was able to travel the world from his wealth and success. The family spent most of their time in Philadelphia, but like many of the city’s wealthy residents, they often summered elsewhere. Ellen Bartol married Joseph Harrison Brazier in 1866 and they had two children. When her father Barnabas died, Ellen inherited some of his remaining fortune and as a part of high society, she had a summer cottage in Kennebunkport built. Working with Maine architect John Calvin Stevens, she oversaw the designs of Juniper Ledge, this gorgeous, eclectic shingled residence in the Cape Arundel summer colony. Ellen would summer at the cottage until her death in 1925, but before she died, she joined her daughter in the 1910s and 1920s at Women’s Suffrage events and fundraisers, helping to pass the 19th Amendment, allowing women the right to vote in the United States. Ellen is buried in the West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia next to her husband, not far from her parents.
Maine Real Estate
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.
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.
William Allen Jr. House // 1866
Italianate style houses dominate the Deering Street area of Portland architecturally, but there are definitely some great Second Empire residences and other styles seen here. This house (like seemingly every building in Portland in the 1860s) was designed by architect George M. Harding for William Allen Jr. The house would soon be Harding’s neighbor, so he made an effort to site and design this residence with care. The brick building is capped by a slate mansard roof and it has a beautiful projecting door hood with pendants carved of grapes. Sadly, like some others on the street, the belvedere was removed in the mid-20th century.
George M. Harding House // 1868
Architect George M. Harding built this boxy Italianate style house as his personal residence on Deering Street in Portland, Maine. Harding was very busy in the late 1860s after the destructive Great Fire of Portland in 1866. He designed some of the finest commercial blocks Downtown, including the Rackleff Block and Woodman Block, both excellently preserved landmarks in town today. For his own residence, he pulled out all the stops, with bold proportions, carved trim details, and a center tower capped with a mansard roof. The tower was removed in 1956, but the rest of the house is just stunning. Architect-designed houses for their own residency are always fun to find!
Francis Waldron House // 1867
Francis Ashby Waldron (1816-1898) was born in Buckfield, Maine to an old New England family. He moved to Portland for job opportunities and worked as a merchant, eventually establishing Waldron and True with business partner Samuel True. The firm was engaged in dealing grain, salt, corn, and more. After a few years of profits, Francis had this Italianate style mansion built on the fashionable Deering Street just west of Downtown. The property was passed down to his children after his death in 1898, and it remained in the family until 1950. The house originally had a prominent belvedere at the roof, but it was eventually removed. The former Waldron House is now maintained as a law office.
Thompson Block // 1868
Another of Portland’s stunning mid-19th century commercial blocks is the Thompson Block, built in 1868. The structure is one of the most high-style commercial buildings in Maine and is in a great state of preservation. The building was designed by George M. Harding, a VERY busy architect after the disastrous Great Fire of 1866, which destroyed much of Downtown Portland. The building stands three-stories tall with a polychrome slate mansard roof providing a full fourth floor, a subtle and great way to get extra height without making a building too overbearing. The mansard is broken up at the facade by dormers with round-arch windows and keystoned and eared hoods. If only all cities held off urban renewal, we would have so many more structures like this!
Portland Mariner’s Church // 1828
Talk about a unique church! The Mariner’s Church in Downtown Portland was built in 1828 and is modeled after Faneuil Hall in Boston and East India Hall, Salem, Massachusetts; and was the first Greek Revival building in Portland (with some lingering Federal flair). It also for many years was Portland’s largest building! Its concept was that of a place of worship and education center for seamen of the port city between their voyages on the open sea. The ground floor was designed to house shops for merchants whose rent would support and maintain the building. The structure is virtually unchanged from how it looked nearly 200 years ago and showcases the importance of the sea to the port towns and cities of New England!
Woodman Block // 1867
Located next-door to the Rackleff Block, this high-style Second Empire commercial block in Downtown Portland, Maine really turns heads. The Woodman Block (like its neighbor) was built in 1867 from plans by architect George M. Harding, who designed the building for George W. Woodman, a drygoods dealer. This stunning commercial block originally housed Woodman’s dry goods firm, Woodman, True, and Company. It later held a druggist and medicine company. The building retains much of its original architectural character minus the iron cresting which once capped the mansard roof. They don’t make them like they used to!