Mary Ellen Chase House

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

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. 

Melatiah Chase

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *