Of the 17 gorgeous sea captains’ homes along it, several are currently available. And one on Summer Street, Kennebunk is our favorite … There are, of course, more than 17 historic sea captains’ homes within the borders of Kennebunk’s National Register Historic District, Maine’s very first historic district (established in 1963), but Summer Street is […]
By Yankee Magazine
Mar 24 2016
The Ivory Lord House at 31 Summer Street, constructed in 1835 by sea captain and shipbuilder Ivory Lord.Photo Credit : Meggie Booth
Of the 17 gorgeous sea captains’ homes along it, several are currently available. And one on Summer Street, Kennebunk is our favorite …
There are, of course, more than 17 historic sea captains’ homes within the borders of Kennebunk’s National Register Historic District, Maine’s very first historic district (established in 1963), but Summer Street is truly special. Meandering on foot along it recently, we passed by one historic mansion after another on both sides of the street—each one seemingly more elegant than the last. Some were built in the 1790s, the oldest in 1750. Many were occupied by multiple generations of the same family—the Lords, for instance, were involved with nine of them—and many owners were quite prominent, such as Hugh McCollach, who served in President Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet as well as in Presidents Andrew Johnson’s and Chester A. Arthur’s, too. The Taylor–Barry house at 22 Summer Street has 1820 stenciling on its hall walls by the famous itinerant artist Moses Eaton … and, well, listing all the significant historical features of the sea captains’ homes on Summer Street would require many pages.
One of the most famous of them all is the George W. Bourne House at 104 Summer Street, still known today as “the Wedding Cake House” because of its elaborate, wedding-cake-like trim. It was the subject of a Yankee feature back in June 1969, but because it wasn’t for sale at the time, we don’t know its price tag back then. Obviously it would have been a fraction of its value today.
Which brings us to one of the most elegant and historically interesting of all those sea captains’ homes on Summer Street. We’re referring to the Ivory Lord House at 31 Summer Street, built in 1835 by one Ivory Lord, a sea captain in his younger days and then a major shipbuilder, responsible for many fine vessels launched on the Kennebec River. It’s on the market this spring, with just under four acres of very valuable land behind it, for $925,000. The owner for the past eight years has been Maureen Weaver, a divorced real-estate professional with three teenaged children, who grew up in the William Lord Mansion at 20 Summer Street. And that’s just across the street! In other words, Maureen is a Kennebunk native to the core. Incidentally, we should make it clear here that Kennebunkport, with its summer tourist population, and Kennebunk, a solid year-round community, are two totally separate towns.
Anyway, Maureen, accompanied by Duchess, a very friendly (and very large) dog, greeted us on the spacious wraparound porch, a striking feature of the Ivory Lord House, probably an early influence of the Southern homes that Ivory Lord saw in the Carolinas and Louisiana when his ships sailed down there during those early years.
Then, over tea and scrumptious homemade muffins, we settled down in the breakfast room—just off the totally remodeled kitchen and near the library, family room, and impressive “great room”—and were entertained by Maureen’s wonderful stories of growing up on Summer Street with her six siblings and oodles of neighboring children. “Even today,” Maureen said, “we get around 3,500 children trick-or-treating here on Summer Street every Halloween. They come from all over.”
During our subsequent tour a bit later, which included the five bedrooms (each with its own bathroom), eight fireplaces, and a separate in-law apartment, as well as the attached four-car garage, a shed, and an old-fashioned cow barn, Maureen listed off all the specific improvements and renovation projects completed over the past eight years. The total cost came to exactly $263,500. In other words, you can rest assured that the Ivory Lord House is in pristine condition. As we walked from room to room, she pointed out many historical details, too. For instance, high up on the barn wall (near the ceiling) is an old wooden door. “In there is where runaway slaves could hide,” she said, adding that black trim around one of the chimneys indicated that the house was part of the Underground Railroad. (Since then the chimney has been rebuilt,so no black trim anymore.) We were particularly intrigued by the beautifully curved wall in the family room, thought by some to deter evil spirits, and puzzled over the small metal frames in the middle of some of the old 19th-century windows. “They’re a mystery,” Maureen laughed.
By the time we’d finally said our goodbyes to Maureen (and, of course, Duchess) and were heading home on the Maine Turnpike later that afternoon, our head was swimming with all we’d seen and heard during our visit to Kennebunk’s historic Summer Street. Probably the only way to digest it all, we concluded, would be to live there. Wow—what a lovely dream.
For details, contact Maureen Adams Weaver, Legacy Properties/Sotheby’s International Realty, 207-967-0934 (office), 610-322-5832 (cell); firstname.lastname@example.org. Readclassic HFS stories from our archives at:
For historical information on Kennebunk, including the mansions on Summer Street, several of which, besides the Ivory Lord House, are currently on the market, contact Cynthia Walker at the Brick Store Museum: 207-985 4802; email@example.com
Yankee likes to mosey around and see, out of editorial curiosity, what you can turn up when you go house hunting. We have no stake in the sale whatsoever and would decline it if offered.