The Billows Cottage // 1895

The Billows Cottage in Kennebunkport, Maine was built in 1895 for a B.S. Thompson, a wealthy coffee and tea merchant. The house was originally designed by Henry Paston Clark, a Boston architect who was very busy furnishing designs of some of the summer colony’s most iconic buildings and cottages. For this cottage, he designed it in a blending of Shingle and Colonial Revival styles with a side-gabled roof punctuated by dormers and sweeping verandas with rubblestone foundation. By 1904, the cottage was purchased by Robert C. Ogden of Philadelphia, who helped establish Wanamaker’s Department Store. Under Ogden’s ownership, the house was remodeled and expanded numerous times, but still retains its charm!

Edwin Packard Cottage // 1899

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.

Juniper Ledge Cottage // 1889

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.

Grayling Cottage // c.1900

John Bach McMaster (1852 –1932) was born in Brooklyn, New York to a rich plantation owning father and mother who ran operations in New Orleans until the outbreak of the Civil War. After this, John graduated from the College of the City of New York in 1872, worked as a civil engineer in 1873–1877. Falling in love with the field of American History, he switched careers and in 1883, became professor of American history in the University of Pennsylvania. McMaster is best known for his History of the People of the United States from the Revolution to the Civil War (1883), a valuable supplement to the more purely political writings of earlier years. The book was a huge success and John was able to purchase house lots in the newly established Cape Arundel Summer Colony in Kennebunkport, Maine, a colony populated by many wealthy Philadelphians for summer homes. He first appears to have built “The Kedge”, a chunky, but beautiful cottage on a cliff. McMaster would also have this larger cottage built by the turn of the 20th century, which in design, appears to be a more eclectic Shingle style dwelling. Just a stone’s throw from the Atlantic, the house features continuous cedar shingle siding, sweeping porches to provide views of the ocean, a prominent chimney, and Colonial-inspired fanlight motifs.

Sprouting Rock Cottage // 1887

Another of the earlier summer cottages built in Kennebunkport’s Cape Arundel summer colony is this charming dwelling perched on a stone outcropping overlooking the rocky coast of Maine. Sprouting Rock Cottage was built in 1887 as a transitional Shingle style and Queen Anne summer home for author John Townsend Trowbridge of Arlington, Massachusetts. Trowbridge spent many summers in Kennebunkport and was engaged in local cultural affairs, he even named Spouting Rock and Blowing Cave, natural features in the town. For his summer cottage, Trowbridge hired Arlington-based architect J. Merrill Brown, who provided a rustic, timeless design without all the unnecessary frills and details for the rugged coastline. That is to say that the cottage is anything but boring, with its sweeping porches, complex form with rounded stair-tower, and dormer with curved shingle returns. Perfection.

Gable and Tower Cottages // 1889

These two similar houses in the Cape Arundel Summer Colony in Kennebunkport, Maine, were built in 1889 for Prosper Louis Senat (1852–1925) and his wife Clementine. Prosper was a well-known artist from Philadelphia, who would summer in Kennebunkport and traveled the world with Clementine, painting landscapes and seascapes. Senat and his wife lived in one cottage and likely rented the other to family and friends when visiting town. His studio was built on a nearby street and is extant. Tower cottage (greenish-grey) was renamed Shady Oak Cottage in the 20th century. Both cottages were built by George Gooch, a local contractor from plans by an unknown architect and feature bay windows, short towers, smaller windows, and continuous shingle siding.

“The Dory” Cottage // 1888

Before Miss Gerrard purchased the Glen Cottage (last post) in 1900 in Kennebunkport, Maine, she had already summered in her own summer cottage nextdoor for over a decade. In 1888, she hired an architect from New Jersey to furnish plans for this charming shingle and stone cottage as her summer retreat. The cottage features a prominent brick and rubble stone chimney facing the street with a gambrel roof. The entrance is tucked away under a recessed porch and looks to be the original dutch-door. I can’t imagine how amazing summers in this house would be!

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.

Samuel P. Tilton Cottage // 1880

One of the most well-designed and least-pretentious summer cottages in Newport is this charming dwelling on a dead end street. The Samuel P. Tilton Cottage was designed in 1880 by the prestigious firm of McKim, Mead & White as an idiosyncratic blending of Queen Anne and Shingle architectural styles. Mr. Tilton was a milliner (maker and seller of women’s hats) with stores in Boston and Paris, France. He had this cottage built to summer close to the nation’s wealthiest, likely marketing some hats at elaborate Gilded Age events. The facade is assertively Queen Anne with its massing and decorative panels, with shingled side elevation seemingly sprouting from the earth. The architectural terminology for these unique decorative panels is “sgraffito” where here, cement or plaster siding is set and adorned with shells, pebbles, colored glass, and pieces of coal into a cartouche design. The house is one of the finest in Newport, and shows that bigger isn’t always better!