Throwback Thursday

Captain James Fairfield House c.1813

Captain James Fairfield married Lois Walker on 12 November 1807. She was the daughter of Daniel Walker of the Cup and Saucer House on Maine Street featured here a couple of weeks ago. You may remember that the couple built The Captain Fairfield house c.1813 on land that Daniel Walker had gifted to his daughter Lois. The Brick Store Museum has a portrait of James Fairfield that, long since being lost at sea in a shipwreck, was delivered to Kennebunkport two years after the Captain’s death. But that’s not the story about the Fairfield House I want to share with...

Captain Nathaniel Ward Jr. House Kennebunkport

The house at 26 Maine St was built by boatbuilder and Sea Captain Nathaniel Ward Jr. in 1812. Nathaniel Ward Jr.’s eldest son, Charles, who inherited the house from his father, became the second American Consul to Zanzibar in 1846. Not the most diplomatic of diplomats, his explosive relationship with the Sultan Seyyid Said nearly ended United States Zanzibarian relationship with a bang. The first United States Consul to Zanzibar was Richard P. Waters of Beverly, Massachusetts. He was horrified by the inhumane conditions suffered at the open slave market there but quickly learned that if he was to survive...

Captain Daniel Walker’s Kennebunkport Legacy

Kittery shipwright John Walker, no relation to the Walkers of Walker’s Point, purchased a 20-acre lot of land in Arundel in 1740. His 21-year-old son Gideon was at that time apprenticed with a tanner in Rowley, Massachusetts. John Walker left his son the Arundel lot when he died in 1743. Gideon Walker built a home and a tannery on the lot two years later. There were only three other houses in the river village at that time. The Walker Tannery prospered, affording the family the dubious distinction of slave ownership in “poor Arundel,” as Kennebunkport was often called in the...

U.S. Navy Battleship time trials Cape Ann to Cape Porpoise

Cape Porpoise residents had a front row seat to watch the official United States Battle Cruiser speed trials from Seavey’s lookout up on Crow Hill. Each trial consisted of 2 trips over a carefully measured course that ran 41.65 knots at sea from Cape Ann, Massachusetts to Cape Porpoise, Maine. The battleships would circle for a few hours at Cape Ann to give their boilers time to build up a head of steam before screaming across the starting line at top speed. The stakes were high for the first trial in May of 1893. Philadelphia shipbuilder Edwin S. Cramp had...

Elmer Chickering

This Elmer Chickering photograph was taken in 1883 from Lower Village looking across the old drawbridge into Dock Square. Elmer Chickering of 21 West St Boston came through town in his handmade photography saloon during the summers of 1882 and 1883. You can recognize his cabinet cards by their gilt Chickering watermark, though the watermark is often faded somewhat on the cards that have survived. The 1883 railroad platform can just be seen at the far right here so we know this picture was taken no earlier than 1883. Notice that the 1878 Brown Block now known as Colonial Pharmacy...

Charles Bradbury’s house on Maine Street Kennebunkport

Charles Bradbury, author of The History of Kennebunkport from its First Discovery by Bartholomew Gosnold, May 14, 1602 to A. D. 1837, was born in Arundel, on October 7, 1799, in the Smith Bradbury House (C-5 in Strolling Through the Port). Charles’ father, Smith Bradbury, was a Sea Captain and a merchant in Kennebunkport, who came from Newburyport around 1790. His mother was Mary Hovey, granddaughter of Reverend John Hovey, minister in Arundel from 1741 to 1768. The Reverend had kept daily journals of births, marriages and other affairs of the town. Charles Bradbury used what was left of John...

Kennebunkport view of Dock Square c.1892

This glass plate of Dock Square was taken between May 8, 1891, when the White School (1) was moved from the corner of Maine Street and Union Street to its present location tucked behind the Brown Block (2), and October 3, 1893, when the first Norton House burned (3). The building at far right was originally a school on Elm St called the Academy (4). It was moved to Dock Square before 1850. It has since been torn down and rebuilt as part of Alisson’s.

The Launching of the Nimrod

Hundreds of spectators came to see the launching of the three masted schooner Nimrod from the Christenson Shipyard in Kennebunk Lower Village on August 22, 1891. The Nimrod was the last vessel Norwegian shipbuilder George Christenson framed out. He did not get to see her off the ways at what would later become Herbie Baum’s Boatyard. George died of heart failure on March 3, 1891, at the age of 64. Andrew Walker recorded the loss in his diary. “Last Monday night George Christenson, a shipbuilder at the Port, arose about midnight, partly dressed himself and laid down on a sofa....

Frank G. Littlefield’s Smithville Sawmill

The Ellen Littlefield Doubleday Collection contains the diaries of Frank G. Littlefield of Mills Road from 1895-1918. Frank writes about his day-to-day life in Cape Porpoise. Like so many of his neighbors, he worked a lot of jobs to make ends meet. He painted and papered local houses and hotels, he cut ice in the wintertime, and he was a gifted taxidermist. He and his wife Emma Louise grew vegetables and raised livestock. Despite all that effort, they still had to go out and fetch wild fish or fowl for the family to eat most days. On November 26, 1897,...

Hurricane Fire Extinguished: Dock Square Fires Recalled

Shortly after I posted my Throwback Thursday column last week, I read in a local Facebook Post that Hurricane Restaurant in Dock Square was on fire. My mind was immediately flooded with images of the two previous fires on that side of Dock Square that had caused so much damage. All but one of the commercial buildings on the north side of Dock Square were destroyed by fire in 1877. The anchor of the block had been the first Parker House Hotel and Restaurant built around 1870 by Swedish-born William C. Parker. It was described by the press as “a...