Kennebunk-born Burleigh S. Thompson moved to Boston as a young man. He eventually became a wealthy dealer in tea, coffee, and cigars and married Harriet Gove of Cohasset, Massachusetts in 1854. Burleigh and Harriet were already living in the c.1800 Perkins House in Kennebunkport Village by 1880. They moved here from Cohasset Massachusetts to be close to their only child Hattie, who in 1879 had married the successful Kennebunkport Sea Captain, Daniel W. Dudley. Descendants of Ephraim Perkins finally sold Harriet Thompson the classic riverfront homestead overlooking Dock Square in 1888. The Thompsons tore it down and built a “modern mansion” on the Perkins house foundation in 1900. We know the “new” mansion as The Kennebunkport Inn.
Elegant cottages, many of them designed by Architect Henry Paston Clark, were springing up all around Cape Arundel when the Thompsons moved to Kennebunkport. Burleigh hired Henry Paston Clark to build him two rental cottages overlooking Point Vesuvius. Fort Bradford, the first cottage was completed in 1892. He rented it out for the whole summer for $1,500. The name of the nine bedroom “cottage” has been changed to Point O’ View and Point Vesuvius is now known as Walker’s Point. Burleigh’s first cottage still stands and is currently listed for sale for over 7 million dollars.
His second speculative cottage next door, The Billows, was also designed by Henry Paston Clark. It was completed in 1895. The Billows became summer home to the George H.W. and Barbara Bush family in 1973. The accomplishments of this remarkable family are well known in Kennebunkport and around the world. The 41st President of the United States of America sold The Billows in 1981. His family and then the family of his son, George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States of America, have summered across the way at Walker’s Point ever since.