Everyone who loves Boothbay Harbor, Maine, knows about the historic old house attached to the middle of the longest wooden footbridge in the country.
One rainy summer day a dozen years ago, Allan Miller and Pam Burke were walking across the longest wooden footbridge in the United States, admiring harbor activities on both sides. They’d recently begun living together, having met in Key West, Florida, where Allan had owned and operated (between various carpentry projects) the well-known Pepe’s Café & Steak House since 1978; Pam, originally from Newburyport, Massachusetts, had been taking tourists on sailing excursions, something she’d been doing during the summer months in Boothbay as well. It so happened that for this particular summer she’d convinced Allan to take time off from his restaurant business for a couple of months.
When it began raining even harder, they ducked under an overhanging roof of the house out there in the middle of the bridge.
“Look,” said Allan, pointing to a small sign tacked onto the door, “this place is for sale.” And the rest, as they say, is history.
Over the years since it was built in 1902, the “Bridge House,” as it’s called in Boothbay, has been a fish market, the bridge tender’s house, an art studio, and, more recently, a gift shop, as well as a summer residence for various owners, including Pam and Allan. Once they took it over, Allan proceeded to use his considerable carpentry skills to restore the entire building beautifully. No square inch was spared his attention.
Well, on a rainy day last fall, we moseyed out across that long footbridge, ducked under the same overhang of the house out there, and, like Pam and Allan had back in 2001, read a small “For Sale” sign tacked to the door. (Price: $775,000.) That particular door seemed to be locked, so we proceeded along a walkway on the west side until we came to another entrance. There we met Pam and Allan and their very friendly dog, Rusty. Our immediate feeling upon entering their living area was that the views from all those large windows on three sides would be all we’d need to be happy here forever. In short, it’s a spectacular location for a house.
The interior is simple, but it has the feeling of quality throughout, featuring two leather couches next to a small woodstove, where one can sit and gaze out those windows at the busy harbor. There’s a nice kitchen area, where a trap door opens up to the water below. “They say that lots of rum was smuggled through there back in Prohibition days,” Allan explained. The single bathroom, with cedar shower and copper floors, is to the left of the stairs leading up to the one bedroom. In the back, opening onto the bridge, is Allan’s workshop, plenty large enough to become one or even two more bedrooms. That’s where the gift shop was located.
“What about your sewage?” we wanted to know. Well, it happens that this property includes the underwater land beneath the bridge, which is owned by the town. So their deal with the town allows a pipe to run under the bridge into the town sewage system. “Same for our drinking water,” Pam added. And where can one park a car if one owned the Bridge House?
“We can solve that for you,” Pam said with a smile. “We own what was once Rowes Market, over on the east side of the bridge, with more than five parking spaces.” Turns out that Pam and Allan have placed that property, which can be used commercially or as a residence, on the market as well. (Price: $229,000.)
After sitting for a while on one of those luxurious leather sofas until the rain stopped, enjoying Allan’s coffee, we went outside to the spacious deck and sat some more on one of several Adirondack chairs. A walkway leads from there down to a deepwater dock and float, to which was tied a beautiful 23-foot elliptical-stern launch and a 14-foot fiberglass rowboat. For sale? “Sure,” Allan said, but he made it plain that his 30-foot Rhodes wooden sloop, named Trivet—built in 1930 but totally redone by him—moored just off the dock, wasn’t for sale. During the summer months, he said, he and Pam spend quite a lot of time sailing the Trivet around the area.
People often ask us whether, in all our years of moseying around New England looking for interesting properties, we’re ever tempted to buy one of them ourselves. Our answer: Yes! And the Bridge House was definitely one of them. But, of course, we didn’t. However, maybe the new owners would consider renting it to us for a couple of weeks this coming summer? Please?
For details, contact Allan Miller or Pam Burke at 18 Sunset Rock Road, East Boothbay, ME 04544. 207-841-6009; firstname.lastname@example.org