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!
Portland Central Fire Station // 1924
The Central Fire Station in Portland, Maine was built in 1924 and designed by William R. Miller & Raymond J. Mayo, architects located at 465 Congress. Lester I. Beal, a draftsman employed by Miller & Mayo, participated in the design. It was erected to contain the administrative offices of the Portland Fire Department, as well as to house fire engines and other apparatus of the inner city district. Portland has one of the oldest fire departments in the nation, 1768, when Falmouth appointed fire wardens to look for fires at night and alert the residents. In 1786, the citizens of Falmouth formed a separate town in Falmouth Neck and named it Portland, after the isle off the coast of Dorset, England. After the Great Fire of 1866 destroyed much of Downtown Portland, a new central station was built in 1867. The structure was deemed obsolete with new, large ladder trucks replacing smaller engines. The entire downtown block was demolished for the current Central Fire Station for the present building. The small building is at the center of a large lot, which is likely a candidate for redevelopment in the future (after some adjacent surface parking lots are developed).
Lobster Point Lighthouse // 1948
When you walk along Ogunquit’s Marginal Way cliff walk, it is missing one thing, an iconic Maine lighthouse… or is it? This mini lighthouse on the route always has people lining up to snap a picture and its quirky roadside attraction appeal is undeniable. The original Lobster Point Lighthouse was constructed in 1948 by Winfield C. Littlefield of the local family who first settled in the town. The “lighthouse” was designed by Grover S. Perkins. Much like the real lighthouses on the coast, the original structure was badly beaten by the salt air and high winds and parts of the structure were replaced. Notably, in 1993, the top (lantern) was replaced with fiberglass. Additionally, in 2009 the structure was upgraded, all from donations. The iconic roadside lighthouse will continue to ‘light the way’ for the droves of tourists and locals alike who navigate Marginal Way.
Perkins Cove Drawbridge // c.1941
The Perkins Cove wooden footbridge in Ogunquit, overlooks one of the loveliest little harbors in the Maine coast and spans the narrow entrance to the port. The iconic bridge is perhaps the only double-leaf draw-footbridge in the United States and luckily for us, is right here in Maine! The small channel was once very shallow, but in about 1940, the cove was dredged to make room for larger fishing vessels. A new drawbridge was soon added to allow access to the small peninsula while also permitting fishing vessels to pass underneath. The bridge has been modified a couple times since it was constructed in the early 1940s. The new bridge spurred development of some of the area which was already a mix of fishing shacks and artist studios. Since then, many of the original fish shacks have been converted to restaurants or shops due to the high value of the land now. It was also announced this year that the bridge would soon be demolished and replicated with Federal funds with a new harbormaster building. Hopefully the replacement will closely match the existing, which is a huge draw (pun intended) for the tourists who flock to the area.
Nellie Littlefield House // 1889
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.
Lake House Hotel // 1797
Eli Longley (1762-1839) came to Waterford, Maine by way of Bolton, Mass., in 1789 and erected a log cabin in town. As the first settler to build in this part of town, he owned a substantial piece of property, which was frequently travelled through as the area was being developed. Seeing a need for lodging, he built a one-story tavern in the location of this building, which was added onto and modified as demand and the area’s population grew. Longley would also subdivide some of his land for house lots along the new town common, selling to new settlers as they arrived. Longley sold the tavern in 1817, which was acquired later in 1847 by Dr. Calvin Farrar. Taking advantage of a nearby mineral spring, Dr. Farrar opened a successful hydropathic spa, which used natural waters to cure patients of their ailments. The spa was taken over by Dr. William P. Shattuck, who expanded the site as the “Maine Hygienic Institute”, a hospital exclusively for lady patients employing eclectic treatment. This business and the tourism it generated helped shift the town from a sleepy village to a tourist destination by the late 19th century, where city-dwellers would flock to view the natural scenery and breathe in the clean air. In the 1860s-70s, Shattuck “modernized” the Lake House Hotel with the two-story Victorian-era porch and sawn decorative trim.
Cedarbrook Farm // 1792
Last up on our tour of Scandinavia (Denmark, Sweden and now Norway) Maine, is Norway. The town of Norway centers around Pennessewasse Lake, which supported native people in the region for thousands of years. It wasn’t until after the American Revolution that European settlers established the town. By 1789, a sawmill and gristmill were established, the first road was built in 1796, and the town of Norway was officially incorporated on March 9, 1797. Before incorporation, the township adopted the name Rustfield, to recognize the contributions of prominent landowner Henry Rust of Salem, Mass and the community once petitioned the Massachusetts General Court to be named Norage, meaning “falls” in the native peoples’ language. Norway won the name, but the origin of the town’s name remains unknown. The town leaned more towards industry than Denmark and Sweden due to the stronger rivers, and its population increased as a result.
This historic farmhouse sits on the eastern edge of Pennessewasse Lake and is one of the oldest extant homes in town. It was built in 1792 just years after land here was purchased by Nathaniel Bennett in 1790. Nathaniel and Elizabeth Bennett resided in the home until they died, childless. The home was eventually purchased by Don Carlos Seitz, publisher of the New York World, who grew up and was educated in town. Seitz operated the property as a gentleman’s farm, and is responsible for naming the property “Cedarbrook Farm”. His estate sold the property to one of his hired hands in 1927. It remains very well preserved and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996 as the Nathaniel and Elizabeth Bennett House.
Sweden Free Meetinghouse // 1826
Just a short flight (erh I mean drive) from Denmark, you’ll find Sweden… Maine. Sweden is one of three towns of Oxford County Maine, named after Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Norway & Sweden). Sweden was once territory of the Abenaki tribe who fled to Canada during the Dummer’s War. Present-day Sweden was first colonized in 1794 by Colonel Samuel Nevers from Burlington, Mass. After the Revolutionary War, where he served, Samuel was given a large tract of land in Maine. The town separated from Lovell and became known as Sweden, likely due the . THe started to clear his lumber on his land, and he returned several times a year to his home in Burlington, Mass. for supplies. In 1796, his friend Benjamin Webber joined him and Samuel gave his friend some land for his assistance. Upon his last visit back to Burlington in 1796, he took his bride Esther Trull by horseback, making the 180-mile journey within 24 hours, a record time for this era. The Nevers cleared out land, laid out roads, and built the earliest civic buildings in the fledgling town, including the town’s Free Meetinghouse seen here in 1826. This building has served as a townhouse, community church, schoolhouse, and grange hall. The building was largely rebuilt in the 1860s, giving it the vernacular Greek Revival appearance we see today.
Boothby House // 1870
The Second Empire style did not take off in Maine as it did in other parts of New England (and the U.S. for that matter), so it’s always a treat to spot one driving the backroads of the Pine Tree State! This house in Denmark, Maine, was built around 1870 for E. A. Boothby, who worked as Assistant Engineer of the Maine Central Railroad. The Second Empire style is evident here from the mansard (French style) roof, bracketed eaves, and a hooded double-door entry.