One of Maine’s most charming libraries is right in the coastal village of Ogunquit, and like many of the greatest, it was built as a memorial to someone. George Mecum Conarroe was born Nov. 9, 1831. His father, George Washington Conarroe, was an accomplished Philadelphia portrait artist who provided his family with every advantage mostly from an inherited family fortune. The Conarroes and their cousins, the Trotters, who summered at Cape Arundel, had been associated in a very successful steel venture for several previous generations. George M. Conarroe apprenticed in a Philadelphia law firm and was admitted to the Bar in 1853. He ran a successful probate law practice and his prudent real estate development investments enhanced his formidable fortune. Nannie Dunlap, daughter of another leading Philadelphia lawyer married George M. Conarroe in 1868, they were inseparable. He built a summer estate in York Cliffs, a burgeoning Summer colony just south of Ogunquit (then a part of Wells). George died in 1896, and Nannie fought to keep her late husband’s legacy living in the coastal area he loved so much. She hired Philadelphia architect Charles M. Burns to design a new summer chapel in York and this beautiful village library in Ogunquit. The library was constructed of fieldstone taken from the site and is a lovely example of the Romanesque Revival and Queen Anne architectural styles in Maine.
One of the most charming buildings in the quaint village of Ogunquit Maine has to be this Victorian inn, located right on Shore Road, the town’s main thoroughfare. The house had its beginnings in 1889 when Joseph H. Littlefield constructed it for his wife Ellen “Nellie” Perkins and their family of four children. Joseph was a member of the esteemed Littlefield Family, which goes back to before Edmund and Annis Littlefield and their six children traveled from England and settled in the town of Wells in 1641. The family was prosperous in the area, and Joseph used his wealth and position in local affairs to develop summer cottages and buildings at the beginning of the town’s large development boom in the late 19th century and early 20th, catering to summer residents and tourism. The Littlefield House was passed down to Joseph and Nellie’s children after their passing, last occupied by Roby Littlefield (1888-1988), who served in local and state politics. It was Roby who was instrumental to establishing the Ogunquit Beach District, which allowed the government to acquire the beachfront in Ogunquit, making it public. The old Littlefield House is now an Inn, known as the Nellie Littlefield Inn & Spa, and it retains so much of its original charm.
Opened in 1933 in a converted garage and relocated to the existing building upon its completion in the summer of 1937, the Ogunquit Playhouse is an important part of Maine’s historic twentieth-century cultural landscape. The Playhouse was founded by former Hollywood director and Broadway producer Walter Hartwig and his wife Maude, and the building was designed by theater architect Alexander Wyckoff. The site on Rt-1 was intentional as the highway was the main coastal route for the inter-war summer tourist travel. The Colonial-inspired theater was in keeping with the historic nature of New England, but with the grandeur to attract a nation-wide summer audience. Early articles mentioned the building constructed of “…steel and wood, painted white with green shutters and roof, is simple in line, suggesting the Colonial architecture of New England”. Walter Hartwig died in 1941, and his widow Maude took over as the producer for the upcoming season. In 1947, she engaged George Abbott, New York’s most distinguished playwright/producer to share in the managerial duties, and in 1950 John Lane arrived as co-producer. Lane acquired the property in the following year, counting among his first tasks the rebuilding of the stage which was destroyed by a storm the year prior and changing the landscape to move the parking lot in front of the building to the side. The Ogunquit Playhouse continues its 26-week season runs from May through October, with off-season co-productions at The Music Hall in Portsmouth, NH. Go see a show before the season is over!