Old pictures of the lots in Union Square, near where The Boathouse Restaurant now stands at 21 Ocean Avenue with the 1950s River Cottage next door, are hardly recognizable.
Larrabee & Furbish built a store there that sold stoves and tin in 1833. Otis Buzzell bought the building in 1879 along with all the stock of stoves from the previous owners, Gould & Miller. Buzzell sold the store and the stock of stoves and tinware to George Carll in 1887. Carll continued the same business but added the sale of furnaces and general hardware. Wells & Furbish were running the business by 1900. A Chinese Laundry with a shallow roof pitch had been added to that corner by then. In 1922, George Bayes bought Fred Tuck’s Kennebunkport Antique Shop and the Chinese Laundry and built an enormous new moving picture house that came to be known as The Strand Theatre. The grandiose columned theatre was 160’ x 50’ but was mostly supported on pilings in the river.
Alfred M. Wells continued to run his stove and hardware business until his death in 1942. He had stored all his excess stove stock upstairs in his building. On September 11, 1942, the 1833 building collapsed into the river under the weight of all those old stoves on the second floor. William Nedeau took down the Strand Theatre, which had also become unstable, and Nedeau & Thompson’s Quonset hut was put up in its place in 1945 and stood there for 30 years.