I always assumed these whale jawbone begonia bed and the whale rib and vertebrae arbor were conceived when some poor departed whale washed ashore at Cape Porpoise in the 1920s but a few years ago I found a picture of Herbert Allen showing them off in the 1902 Midsummer Edition of The Wave. In the picture, the vine growing on the arbor was already quite mature, reaching just about to the top. The Allen’s lot was one of the first cottage lots sold by the Cape Porpoise Land Company in 1898 so the whalebones have been there almost as long as the cottage.
The giant gaping jaw encloses a bed of beautiful tuberous begonias each summer. This structure is said to have come from one of the largest whales ever killed off Massachusetts and was brought to Maine at great trouble and expense shortly after the cottages were built. Three pairs of ribs form an arch over the walk entering the grounds of the Allen Estate. Besides the ribs and jawbones two large vertebrae, each as big as an ordinary lawn chair, sit on the lawn.
One of the vertebrae was stolen last weekend. It has been in that location since before the 1902 Midsummer Wave was printed. Please be on the lookout for it and message me if you have any information about the theft or want to quietly return it.
Sharon Cummins, Historian
Kennebunkport Historical Society