I recently received a query about the bank branch on Elm St. When was it built and for whom? Coincidentally, I also received some material this week about the old Dudley mansion on Elm St. next door to where the bank branch stands. It always amazes me when questions and answers present themselves in the nick of time.
When the elegant federal house on Elm St was built around 1806 it had a large front lawn running clear to the Kennebunk River. A rum distillery was built on that lawn in the 1820s and was run by the sons of Eliphelet Perkins and Brigadier General Simon Nowell until the manufacture of spiritous liquors was outlawed in the Kennebunks in 1830. A Perkins family heir sold the mansion and its lawn to Benjamin Dudley of Goodwin Mills in 1849. Kennebunk diarist and temperance zealot, Andrew Walker wrote that Dudley could only afford to buy the mansion because of the huge quantities of alcohol he had sold during his career.
Benjamin’s son Daniel set sail from the District of Kennebunk as a teenager to find his fortunes. Before long he was made master and sailed to locals like the South Seas, China, and Japan. He finally inherited the mansion on Elm St in 1885 and proceeded to fill it with treasures he acquired from his exotic voyages. Captain Dudley was such a Kennebunkport character that author Booth Tarkington put him in a novel. And that was just where he belonged because so many of his fantastical stories reportedly sounded a whole lot like fiction.
Shipbuilder, Bernie Warner purchased the house on Elm St from Captain Dudley’s heir Ralph Dudley in 1930. The Ocean National Bank acquired the property and in 1956, the bank announced it would open a temporary Ocean National branch in the old Kennebunkport High School building while Arthur Hendricks constructed a new branch on the front lawn of the old Dudley mansion across the street.
Do you remember when the Ocean National Branch was built on Elm St. in 1958?