Friday, August 1, 2014

Our Old House

We've had several of you write us wondering about the history of our house in Maine. It is an interesting house - at least we think so. The house is somewhere around 175 years old - there are several different dates "on record" about when it was built. Amazingly, we are only the 5th owner. It's why so much remains intact.

When we bought the house it was in need of much work. Fortunately here in Maine there are lots of people skilled at working with old houses. We found a terrific architect who specialized in restoring old houses. A wonderful women who knew the art of working with horsehair plaster walls lived in our house for months bringing them back. We even found a fellow who had the same passion we did for the inlaid floors and meticulously restored them. But that's about us, what about the history?

The house was built by John Dresser, Jr., the only son of John Dresser who made his fortune building several ropewalks in Castine and providing rope to the ships on the Penobscot Bay. It was a good thing that John, Jr. was left a fortune by his father as he seems to have accomplished little in his lifetime. He considered himself a poet and some of his poems remain. As I said, he was lucky to inherit a fortune. He owned the house for 60 years.

Dr. Webster was the next owner. He was the town doctor but unfortunately was killed in WWI rescuing a young boy, as the story goes. The story is still told that he would regularly swim 1 mile across the Bagaduce River to see patients. He lived here the briefest period, less then 10 years.

When Dr. Webster died his assistance, Dr. Babcock, took over the house and Dr. Webster's medical practice. The house became the town hospital and when we moved here there were several people in town who told stories of "being in the hospital" on Main Street. Our dear friend Helene remembers having her tonsils removed and recovering in what is now one of our guest rooms. The Babcocks owned the house for 70 years. Eventually, Mrs. Babcock grew tired of patients underfoot and Dr. Babcock created the town hospital on Court Street which is still the Castine town clinic today. I served on the clinic board for 17 years which I like to think brought things full circle.

George and Katherine Marshall purchased the house from the Babcock estate living here for 17 years. George worked in the merchant marine industry and they lived all over the world. He came to Castine at the end of his career to work for the Maine Maritime Academy and then retired here. When they reached their 80's they found the stairs too difficult and built a one level house on the lot next door. They were terrific neighbors for many years. George passed away just 2 years ago well into his 90's!

We purchased the house from the Marshalls in 1994. We fell in love with the many beautiful details that had not been messed with (messed up?) by too many owners. We restored her back to original lines, modernized where it made sense, and kept features original where possible. It was definitely a labor of love.

So after 20 years we find we are ready to pass her on to new owners who we hope will cherish her as much as we have. Over the years it has been home to each of our 5 Labs - Duke, Tucker, Dyna, Dylan, and Dee Dee. So whoever the next owner may be, they'd better be prepared to find some dog hair along with the fine details.


Unknown said...

Stunning wood work!

Mike, Linda and Jake said...

Beautiful home and history. Good luck with the sale and the next stage of life's journey.

Unknown said...

It is a beautiful home and wonderful history, BUT what about the dogs and how are they doing? What do they have to say about giving up their permanent address?

Unknown said...

When at Cumberland Island where could you take the dogs ashore?. Are there only certain areas?

MV Red Head said...


There are several dinghy docks where you can get ashore with the dogs. We typically go to the ranger station dinghy dock and then walk across the island to the beach. You can walk the many trails but you have to keep them leashed as there are lots of wild horses, armadillos, and snakes.

One of our favorite stops!! We've been many time: