Kennebunkport in the 50s

Joy Jordan-Lake is writing a novel set in Kennebunkport in the 1950s. She stopped by the Kennebunkport Historical Society Archives the other day to see if we could help her get a sense of the place to add depth to her story. I had some photos to share with her but not having been here in the 1950s I didn’t have much to tell her about what it was really like to live here.

It got me thinking about the changes that occurred during that decade. In Dock Square, Miller’s Drug Store closed, the Spring St Shops were built as was the brick Telephone Company building.

In Cape Porpoise, Goat Island Light underwent major renovations, Nunan’s Store next to Church on the Cape was torn down, the bait shed was built at the pier, Bradbury’s became an IGA affiliate, the Texaco Station was built in the square, and the water tower was built on Crow Hill.

The fifties were a kind of rebirth for Goose Rocks Beach after the destructive ‘47 Fire. New buildings were going up everywhere. Ramanscho Hall was floated over from Kennebunk Beach to Goose Rocks to become the new Community Center. Verrier’s Store and Beauty Salon, Allen’s-by-the-Sea, and Nimmo’s were all in their heyday.

There were changes happening all around town. The Schooner Regina was stripped down and floated out to her final resting place at sea. The Kennebunkport Historical Society bought the old Town House School for a Society Headquarters. Jane Morgan returned from Paris a singing sensation and gave the Kennebunkport Playhouse new life. Consolidated School was finally built, in spite of unusual floods and mud. The Town Hall that Abbott Graves had designed in 1902 at Town House Corners was dismantled, moved to North St, and transformed into the Arundel Opera Theatre.

But still, what’s missing from this description of Kennebunkport in the ’50s is memories of ordinary life. Can you please help Joy out? What do you remember about Kennebunkport in the fifties?

Many thanks to Joyce Butler, whose wonderful 2-volume Kennebunkport: The Evolution of an American Town, written for the benefit of Graves Library, is organized by decade, and to my one-of-a-kind beloved son Tyler Cummins for composing and recording some memory music for Mum’s movies so many years ago.

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