The Kennebunkport Historical Society relies on the photographs you donate to illustrate and sometimes illuminate the history of the Kennebunks. The first photograph we are sharing today was donated to the Kennebunkport Historical Society by Orran D. Libby way back when Julian Howard was President of the society. It shows the first house ever built at the southwest end of Goose Rocks Beach where 175 Kings Highway now stands.
In 1892, Daniel D. Libby and his father-in-law, Abel Dennett both of Biddeford, built the cottage mostly of lumber from the Dennett homestead in North Kennebunkport. Julian Howard was a teenager in 1912. He recalled strolling up the beach on moonlit nights with other teenagers to sit on the porch of this house and sing popular songs of the day. As time went by, the aging cottage earned the nickname, the haunted house.
Most of the other photographs in this post were recently donated to the Kennebunkport Historical Society by Timothy Ames.
A storm in 1931 eroded the land under the haunted house to such an extent that a new support structure was required under the front porch. The neighbors, who had suffered less erosion from the 1931 storm, had the good sense to erect a seawall in front of their homes.
1933 began with several punishing storms in quick succession that pounded Goose Rocks Beach. Guests at Olive Emmons’s place made note of the heavy seas on Friday January 27th in the guest book. The next entry on Saturday January 28th says, “Grace Burnhams and Fanny Lothrops house tipped over. Haunted house went out to sea” All that was left of the haunted house was the little shed that had been attached to the back of the cottage.
Grace Burnham’s cottage at 243 Kings Hwy and Fanny Lothrop’s cottage at 245 Kings Hwy both tipped forward onto the beach that same day. They were both moved back and restored that summer and are still stand today.
We are so grateful to Orran Libby, Tim Ames, and Goose Rocks Beach Historian John Pinel for their contributions to the record. What would the story be without their pictures?
My apologies for using the old street numbers. I haven’t yet learned the new ones.