This 2.5 story Greek Revival building was built in 1842 by Joseph and Thomas Y. Davidson, a father-son duo, who also designed the building based on the popular designs of architect Asher Benjamin. Davidson father and son were born in Nova Scotia and they came to Blue Hill in the 1840’s, when ship building was becoming a major industry as both were housewrights and ship carpenters. Neighbor Thomas Lord might have had some architectural input on its design due to it matching the style of the houses around it, but this is not confirmed.
This house was bought in 1860 by Captain Melatiah Chase (1823 – 1884), a prominent shipping captain and businessman for the cost of $1,600. Famously, Melatiah met his future wife Eliza Ann Wescott at his own memorial service – having been thought dead in a shipwreck near Ireland. Eliza and Melatiah traveled around the globe together. For their honeymoon, the couple planned to sail around the world, bringing flour to Bermuda and mixed goods to Liverpool. From there, they were to travel on to Cadiz, Calcutta, Shanghai, and then to California with rice that they would trade for gold before returning to New York, then sailing back to Blue Hill. They left from New York on August 1st, 1849 aboard Melatiah’s new barque, which he christened The Bride. However, the scheduled two-year trip was shortened to two months when an unexpected gale caught the vessel off the coast of the Hatteras 4 days into the trip. The Bride capsized. Melatiah tied Eliza Ann to the mast to keep her safe as he and the other sailors fought to save the ship. A British ship that was nearby managed to save the crew, but The Bride was lost beneath the waves.
By the time Melatiah bought this house, he had already retired from an active life at sea although continued to own several ships. Also, by this time, Melatiah and his wife Eliza Ann had two daughters with another daughter and son being born during their time in the home. Tragically, their eldest daughter, Abby Fulton, died at only 4 years old and Annie Eliza, their 2nd, also died quite young, passing away just 5 days before her sixth birthday.
Their youngest daughter Mary “Minnie” Dyer Chase also suffered a fall with a pencil in her mouth, which both deafened her and caused a serious speech impediment. Her father tried to take her to the best doctors of Boston and New York, but nothing could be done to repair the damage done. She married Addison Herrick, a Preceptor of Blue Hill Academy, and lived with her husband and two daughters in Bethel, Maine. The elm trees that had once stood outside the house were said to have been planted by Captain Chase when his son Edward Everett Chase was born.
When Melatiah died in 1884, Edward Everett Chase inherited the home, and raised his daughter there: the author and academic Mary Ellen Chase. Edward had attended Hallowell Classical Institute and Bowdoin College graduating to act as an attorney for many towns in Hancock County. Edward went on to marry Edith Label Lord and the couple lived there with his mother and had eight children between 1885 and 1912. The evolving landscape of the property around the house included the orchard of a dozen trees behind the house, a lavish flower garden and a large barn that housed the family cow, horses, pony and a donkey.
Mary Ellen wrote about much of her childhood growing up in this house in her 1954 novel, “The White Gate” and detailed her grandparents’ journeys in many of her other books including, “A Walk on An Iceberg”. This house remained in the Chase family for three generations until 1968, when it was sold to Jo Hoy
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This two story Greek Revival building was built by Joseph Parker Thomas in 1839 as a home for him and his wife, Melinda (Holt) Thomas. Joseph Thomas had an array of careers while living in this home, starting as a toolmaker and a blacksmith as well as a deacon in the village. In later life, Joseph worked as a Deputy Collector for the Treasury Department of the United States Military out of the Castine area. Two of Joseph and Melinda’s daughters became teachers, first their eldest daughter Melinda A and then their younger one, Delia. The family resided in this home until Joseph’s death in 1886, when Melinda moved out of the home to live with her children.
The next known family to reside in the home was in 1899, when Asa Otis Littlefield M.D. took up residence there with his wife, Mary O. Littlefield (née Saunders). Asa, or “Otis” as he preferred to be called, was born to Captain Samuel B. Littlefield (1836 – 1865) and Drusilla Rosilla Littlefield (nee Gray 1836 – 1917). Samuel Littlefield was involved in a shipwreck in 1862 and while everyone had given up on him, Mary refused to do so and waited. Otis remembers his mother having a vision of his father at sunset and wearing new clothes after coming home from his journey. This vision came to pass as Samuel returned from his shipwreck, whole and hardy. In 1863, Samuel left for the Grand Banks of Newfoundland to go fishing and sent Mary letters during this voyage. Sadly, in 1864, Otis’ father Samuel died at sea after contracting smallpox in Vera Cruz, Mexico when Otis was three years old. As the oldest man in the house, Otis had worked an odd variety of jobs to support his education – from being a miner to being a bartender to managing a stables and beyond.
In 1892, Otis Littlefield married Mary Olive Saunders in Glocester, Massachusetts on June 21 when he was 30 years old. The two had the following children together: Jane Elizabeth “Jennie” Littlefield (1893-1980), Grace Edith Littlefield (1895 – 1990), Mary Olive Littlefield (1898 – 1985) and Walter Hunt Littlefield (1901 – 1986). In 1899, Otis and his wife took up residence at 61 Union St in Blue Hill, the old Joseph Parker Thomas house, where he used to sell raspberries to Mrs. Thomas as a child. As the story goes, when Otis and Mary bought the house Mrs. Thomas, an elderly woman at the time, gifted the couple a crib that had been used for the Thomas’ sons, Edward and George who both had died while serving in the American Civil War. Otis walked Mrs. Thomas out the door to her waiting daughter, the two arm and arm as they remembered the day of Otis’ youth and the Blue Hill of the last century.
Otis was never idle, making sure to tend to all the needs of the town and making house calls for all kinds of ailments or the delivering of babies with his horse and buggy. He worked for the Village Improvement Society, a local organization of like-minded townsfolk that wanted to make sure that the Village was the best it could be, from watering down the roads to prevent dusty travel to helping improve the general look of the town by sponsoring everyone to have little gardens in their front yards. Otis Littlefield was a great doctor, earning a Gold Medal from the Maine Medical Association in 1935, but many also knew him to be a great authority of local history – his autobiography currently sits in the Blue Hill Historical Society’s collection.
The Littlefields remained in the house on Union Street until Otis’ death in February of 1942, with his wife preceding him in 1937. The house is listed as vacant in the 1950’s census records, which is true of many of the houses listed in Union Street. Regardless, this lack of a chain of ownership makes it difficult to ascertain what became of the ownership of the home until the 2000’s when it came into the Bauer’s ownership.
If you have any stories or pictures that you want to share about this building or its inhabitants don’t hesitate to post them in the comments section. Next Sunday, we’re going to hone in on the home of The Chase Family. See you then!
Starting with “Squire Stevens Homestead”, this two story Federal-style home was built by George Stevens (1775 – 1852), son of Benjamin Stevens (1732-1793) and Hannah Varnum (1736-1805) in 1814. The Stevens were a family that were known to be blacksmiths and housewrights and were amongst the original settlers of the Township no. 5. George Stevens was born in Andover, Massachusetts and came to Blue Hill in 1775 as a baby. He became a shop owner and engaged as textile merchant by having a cotton mill along a dam at the Mill Stream run by Samuel Gibson. The mill ginned cotton, spun threads and wound the wrap together, but sent it out for weaving. George Stevens made his fortune during the War of 1812 as the demand for cotton became a steady one dollar per pound.
George Stevens used his abundant wealth to give support to a variety of local organizations such as the Baptist Church and the Academy and up and coming individuals. He gave a career start to Thomas Lord, the now-famous local architect who designed churches in Blue Hill, Brooklin, Brooksville, Sedgwick and Ellsworth. He also invested in many of the large ships being built in R.G.W. Dodge’s shipyard on Parker Point.
George married twice in his time in the house, first to Dorcas Osgood (1778-1847) and secondly to Mary Haskell (1802-1880) although he didn’t father any children from either union. During his second marriage, he attempted to adopt two boys, but tragically both of these boys died at an early age. Childless, George seemed to re engage his energies towards educating the youth of the area.
Stevens was part of the Blue Hill Academy Boat of Trustees and was the only non-Congregational church member on the board, instead being a member of the Baptist Church. The earliest Academy came into being as a result of an Act of Incorporation passed by the Central Court of Massachusetts in 1803 and was a square wooden building. The brick building that replaced it is the American Legion Hall today and served as such for sixty-five years. George Stevens and local minister, Jonathan Fisher, often clashed on their ideas of proper schooling – mainly centered around their difference in faith and wanting to allow all denominations to attend the Academy.
In 1832, Stevens offered on his death and that of his wife, he would give a thousand dollars and a piece of land to the Academy. The only provision was that, “The institution shall be put on a liberal scale that all denominations shall have equal rights and privileges.” The Academy board said, “no” – however Stevens wrote in his will of 1851 that the land surrounding his house be used to establish an academy as well as the mills, money and wild lands to be used as capital for that venture. In accordance with his wishes, Squire Stevens’ academy was incorporated in 1891 and constructed between 1891 – 1897, the original color being a golden-yellow color that was common in New England Federal-style houses. Thereafter the “Old Academy” cooperated with Steven’s Academy and the two merged fully in 1943. Since then, George Stevens’ Academy has acquired the land and house once belonging to its founder and namesake.
The Academy House, previously George Stevens’ homestead, has seen its fair share of changes externally and internally. In the 1920’s, it was popular fashion to have porches and overhangs and thus the front door was removed to make room for that awning-type structure. Esther Wood’s father kept the original doorway and fan window in his barn for safe keeping. When the trend died out in the 1930’s, the original door was reinstalled on the house’s facade with the window fan joining in 1952 thanks to Annie Clough, the Chase Family and Roland M. Howard. The 1950’s saw the biggest transformations on the campus writ large, including the Industrial Arts facilities, landscaping done by the Blue Hill Garden Club and larger-scale renovations for more classrooms and cafeteria space. George Stevens Academy continues to grow and improve its campus to this day, helping to serve the seven “sending” towns of the area along with The Blue Hill Harbor School – both continuing Squire Steven’s desire for educational opportunities for all regardless of background.
If you have any stories or pictures that you want to share about this building or its inhabitants don’t hesitate to post them in the comments section. Over the next couple of Sundays we’re going to revisit some familiar favorites, continuing with Thomas Lord’s House on Union Street.
This 1847 Greek Revival home on Union Street is a showcase of skills by local architect Thomas Lord (1805 – 1880), who is credited with bringing classical motifs seen in Ancient Greece architecture to Blue Hill houses. Specifically, Thomas Lord is often credited with being the reason that his neighborhood, so named “The Five Houses” all follow the Greek Revival Style. The six houses, all built within a 20 year period, have template-fronted facades and are painted white to resemble white marble. This style had been likely seen by Thomas Lord in Asher Benjamin’s design plates, as seen in Benjamin’s 1833 “The Carpenter’s Assistant” among many others. Ann Hinckley, once a librarian at the Blue Hill Library noted of the house, “The lintels of the doors are carved, the eaves, the windows, and within, the molding, the base-board, doors and corner posts are lovely with design. The staircase is a masterpiece.”
Thomas Lord (1805-1880), was the son of Rev. Benjamin Lord (1778-1841) and Mary Means (1784-1864). He worked on boat figureheads, drawing influence from his travels through the Mediterranean. Lord designed and constructed approximately 83 vessels, 84 houses, 12 schools, and 14 meeting houses. He designed both the First Congregational and Baptist Churches in Blue Hill as well as other surrounding town’s churches such as Surry, Sedgwick, Brooksville, and Brooklin. Just before building the house Thomas married Matilda Carlton (1811-1898) and the couple had three children while living in Thomas’ masterpiece, Roscoe Granville Lord (1834-1914), Ellen Matilda Lord (1840-1886), and Sarah Cole Lord Morse (1849-1934).
When Thomas died in 1880, Thomas Lord’s elder son, Roscoe Granville Lord took up residence here, where the 1900 census lists him as a Painter, which was likely as a House Painter or maybe even as a house stenciler – although this art really saw its height just before the Civil War. Incidentally Roscoe was drafted for the American Civil, although it’s unclear if he ultimately served. In 1868, Roscoe married Carrie J. McFarland (1845-1910) in Ellsworth and together the two had a child, Willie A. Lord (1869-1870), who sadly only lived for one year before passing away. Not much is known about the couple after that, but it appears by 1910, his sister Sarah took ownership of the home.
Sarah married James Henry Morse (1844-1918) at the age of 21 and had two children, Henry Everett Morse(1872-1873) and Florence Sherman Morse (1876-1962). James worked as a carpenter for many years until he began to work as a janitor at the school building – likely George Stevens Academy. Florence never married and worked at the Post Office for many years, likely starting in the Blue Hill Town Hall where the post office once was located. Later she worked as a “teamster” or driver for the Blue Hill Hospital and even later on as a secretary. The house was willed to Florence as the sole heir of the family home and she lived in the home until her death in 1962. The house was, for the first time since it’s construction, sold to a non-Lord or Morse and was passed subsequently onto the Park, Rowland and Kuhns families.
If you have any stories or pictures that you want to share about this building or its inhabitants don’t hesitate to post them in the comments section. Over the next couple of Sundays we’re going to focus on the “Joseph P. Thomas House” otherwise known as the “Asa Littlefield House”
Blacksmiths were the beating heart of early colonial communities, providing the skills to fashion shoes for oxen or horses while mending broken iron tools. As shipbuilding took off as an industry, blacksmiths were often employed to fit the ships with ironworks. Some of the early blacksmiths for Blue Hill included Theodore Stevens, Edward Varum Stevens, Frederick Stevens, Richard Abbott, Clarence Snowman and James Bettel. Typically Blacksmiths were taught in either a guild system or through an apprenticeship, but most likely in Colonial America, many of these men would have learned as an apprenticeship at the age of 10-12 years of age. The training takes 8-10 years to fully master the craft. The work of these early smiths can still be found in the iron farming implements still being used on farms in the present day.
The Mill Stream in Blue Hill has long been the site of many industrial-minded buildings from Matthew Ray’s edge tool shop to Daniel Osgood’s grist mill and George Stevens’ cotton mill on the Mill Stream above High Street. Originally on this site, there was a house that was built and occupied by Eben Garland, the shoemaker as his storefront. The home was passed between the McIntyre and Gross family until it burned down.
It has been said that Frederick Stevens built the shop on the bridge in 1852, selling it to Richard Abbott – however there are no records as such to support this claim nor dispute it. It has also been said that William H Darling put in granite foundations for a bank here in 1880’s, but that was the beginning and end of that venture due to financial woes from the Copper Mining speculation busting.
By 1888, Clarence Snowman (1864 – 1913) owned the lot and appears to have been the one to build the structure on site now. Clarence Snowman was the son of Sewell P. Snowman, a Civil War Veteran that witnessed the build-up to South Carolina’s secession from the Union. Clarence split the lot between himself and James B. Bettel, who had long run a jobbing and horseshoeing business on Water Street and happened to be Clarence’s brother-in-law. Clarence Snowman continued to work at this location until he sold the property to Charles F. Wescott in 1910. For fifty-years, Wescott’s Forge was a landmark in Blue Hill Village – originally meeting the needs of the community by showing horses and oxen, but eventually that faded into a different pursuit.
With the introduction of the Dorrity Stage Coach and eventually automobiles and the decline in the shipping industry, blacksmiths needed to find a new outlet for their craft. Charles Wescott worked in the building from 1910 to his death in 1959, but between the occasional horse shoeing he was able to craft wonderful masterpieces out of metal. He was even known to make rings for little kids from horseshoe nails, which many remember losing quickly as children are apt to do.
Wescott renamed the business Hammer and Tongs and began his forty year stint of creating, both from his own designs and that of other local artists. His wares ranged from metal signs or gates, including the ones at The Old Cemetery on Union Street and the gate at Seaside Cemetery, to fire screens to hanging flower pots. Wescott even did a few statues, but those have long since disappeared with the exception of one: Pan the Piper, depicting Pan lazing against a metallic tree while playing his pipes. The statue was originally created for Arcady, the estate of Mrs. Ethelbert Nevin, widow of a famed composer of the late 19th century. Arcady can be seen near the Reversing Falls Bridge as one heads towards Brooklin.
In 1966, Wescott’s children and his widow sold the property to Katherine “Kitty” Austin Clements – who had earlier sponsored an iron craft shop there during the summer for many years. After her marriage, Kitty Austin sold the property to Russell Phillips in 1968. Phillips reopened the blacksmith shop there and worked with Thayer Bowden at the forge during the summer months. Thayer Bowden was a self-taught blacksmith for the most part, earning some metal work training during his military service. In 1974, Phillips sold the property to John Hikade who opened a furniture stripping business there, while Bowden continued to blacksmith during the summers. On the upper floors, The Handworks Store was opened, a craft store and gallery. In 1977 major renovation took place and a new story was added below street level by extensive excavation.
By June of 1978 “The Firepond” opened in the basement under the partnership of John Hikade and Ben Wootten. The restaurant took its name from the firepond constructed across the street at the mouth of the stream. From that point onwards the Forge had fully closed its doors after a hundred years of smithing. Henceforth the building was used as a restaurant including 66 Steak & Seafood and as of 2021, Blaze.
Although the craft of blacksmithing has declined in popularity in the last sixty years, the both practical and whimsical echoes of these early Smiths can still be found in the strangest of places. If you are walking around downtown Blue Hill, if you spy some twisted iron railings outside some of the local businesses, you are seeing some of the hidden examples of the skills of these Smiths. A subtle, yet long lasting artform that still finds its way into the modern era.
The Holt brothers, Jonah and Jeremiah Thorndike, built the Pendleton House in 1826. Originally called the Brick Block, the building was a storefront for the Holts, and it also housed a post office for many years run by Frederick A. Holt. In the upper floors, Lemuel Ellis once resided, playing his violin, french horn, and other instruments.
“The Brick Block” juggled many owners after Jeremiah died in 1832, being under the management of Captain John Merrill, George Stover, John Snow and so on as a hotel, its name changing from the Brick Block to the Hotel Alma. In the 1870s, the building had fallen into disrepair, and was seized from its owner, Frederick Holt, by the Blue Hill Academy, from whom Nathan Pendleton purchased the building. As an 1877 issue of The Ellsworth American stated: “Blue Hill needs a hotel. There have never been so many strangers and visitors. Five hundred men are working in the quarries.” Thus, Pendleton opened it as a hotel in 1878. Copper mining and granite quarrying in Blue Hill were drawing more workers to the area, and with quarries sometimes employing as many as 1,400 laborers, there was an influx of people to the area. Mr. Pendleton himself was involved in the mining scene, and his hotel gave traveling tradesmen and tourists alike a place to stay, as such it was dubbed the “Pendleton House”. Josie Barker was in charge of the hotel during the mining boom and the registers from the hotel are included in the B.H. Library Archives. The BHHS has a parlor chair, a pitcher and a room key from the hotel from the height of the hotel.
Nathan Pendleton, however, was more interested in mining than hospitality, so he sold the business to William Swazey of Bucksport in 1882, who in turn sold it to John M. Snow in 1888. Mr. Snow encased the building with porches and, in 1896, sold it to George H. Stover, who kept the business going. In 1905, Judge Edward Everett Chase and his family took up living in the house (recounted in Virginia Chase Perkins’ novel America House.) and Judge Chase hired both locals and individuals in a rehabilitation program from local mental asylums. Minot Piper bought the property from Mrs. Chase in 1921 and ran his courier business for the U.S. Mail and freight and later his garage business. Drivers included Edward Pemberton, Luther Piper, Sr, Clifford Piper and Alton Horton.
In 1958 the property and the garage was sold to Foster Blake, Jr. who removed the porches from the building. Heanssler Oil operated a garage there in 1965 and Maine Frame Company has also been housed there in addition to American Railway Express and Western Union. By 1968, Merle Grindle Agency occupied the first floor and the Weekly Packet began publication here. In 1977 Philip Alley ran a Gulf Station at the east end of the building. Today, the building is home to a number of businesses, and although it is no longer a hotel there are still rooms for rent in the upper stories.