Rivermead, at 19 Locke St Kennebunkport, was built by James Blunt between 1801 and 1814 on land that Capt. Thomas Perkins deeded to his son Abner in the first half of the 18th Century. Abner’s grandson, Clement T. Perkins, who was born at Blueberry Hill, acquired Rivermead in 1838 and lived there until his death in 1884. His single daughter Amelia Perkins, seen in the 1883 picture sitting on the front stoop, was the next owner of the house on the Kennebunk River. Her mother, Lucinda Fairfield Perkins, is sitting in a chair in the front yard. Amelia’s sister Ernestine Perkins Maling is on the side porch. Amelia’s brother, George Clement Perkins, was just finishing up his term as Governor of California when the 1883 picture was taken.
Gov. Perkins was born at Rivermead in 1839. As a boy, he dreamed of becoming a sea captain but his tedious duties on the farm did not contribute toward his ambitions. At the age of thirteen, George stowed away on the new ship Golden Eagle, about to sail for New Orleans. When he was discovered aboard, he was appointed Cabin Boy for the journey. He made seven voyages between New Orleans, other ports in the United States and Europe.
A sailor he met on the ship Luna convinced him to seek his fortune in California. George never struck actual gold, but he made a fortune as a businessman meeting the needs of other California gold-hunters. He worked his way up to banking and was elected to the State Senate in 1869. His political career was just beginning. After serving as Governor of California, George was elected as a Republican to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Leland Stanford and was reelected four times, serving from 1893-1915.
Senator Perkins came home to visit his sister Amelia in Kennebunkport in 1902. The Editor of the Wave made sure everyone knew that a bona fide hometown celebrity was in town. This Beautiful Perkins House still stands overlooking the Locks on the Kennebunk River.