Alarmed by the increase in annual maintenance costs for lighthouses and associated dwellings, the Treasury Department appointed Civil Engineer, I.W.P Lewis to conduct a survey of the condition of the lighthouses on the coasts of Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. The Treasury Department presented a report on the progress of the survey to date to Congress on February 25, 1843. Mr. Lewis had concluded that the skyrocketing maintenance cost indicated some defect in the customary system of building lighthouses and associated dwellings. He traveled to all the lighthouses along the coast and took reports from the various lighthouse Keepers. Below is the report for Cape Porpoise, Maine. Goat Island Lighthouse keeper, Thatcher Hutchins was interviewed August 15, 1842. He reported the buildings to be in a deplorable state of disrepair less than a decade after they were first erected.
Kennebunk Port High School was built on Elm St in 1891 at the location of the old Spring Hotel, which had burned in the 1887 Skating Rink Fire. The high school building also housed a grammar school. In 1946, the town voted to pay tuition to Wells and Kennebunk High Schools rather than continue to maintain the Elm St school. The high school students moved out in 1947 and for 6 years the building served as a consolidated 8th grade until Consolidated School was built in 1953. The 1891 building on Elm St was finally torn down to make way for the Town Office in 1959.
When North St/Maine St was laid out in 1755 there was already a bridge over Perkins Tide Mill Creek. It was located just above the mill dam and was then known as the ‘Long Creek Bridge’.
From Arundel Town Book I March 18, 1755 (with spelling corrections made for readability)
“Voted the road from Goff’s Mill so-called to Harding’s Ferry as it is laid out : beg. at the lane that leads from ye Town Road to the Widow Merrill’s house and so down as the road now goes to the dividing line between lots that were formerly Esq. Hill’s lots and Col. Storer’s then S.E. and by E. to Mr. Rhodes field or house and from said Rhodes to the first brook where the road crosses the brook and from said brook on a S. course 42 R to head of Bass Cove and so crossing cove by an old hemlock tree over to a pine stump then S.W. and by S. 100R and then S.W. to Long Creek Bridge and from said bridge along by Mr. Eliphalet Perkins fence to the N.E. end of said fence then on a direct course along by and near ye N.E. corner of the little house where Mr. Shackford Sr. lived and from thence to the back side of Gideon Walker’s barn and so on to Saml Perkins land then down as the old road goes to the old mill brook so-called and 7 R over said brook as the road now is and from there on a S.W. course 32 R to the old road then as the old road goes to the head of Harding’s Cove so on the lower road or way. Road to be 2 Rods wide.”
Narrative from York County Court of General Session Records
Bartholomew Gosnold and his crew were the first European explorers to describe the coast of Southern Maine in 1602 but Indians they met near Cape Neddick had clearly encountered Basque fishermen before that date.
Gosnold, 8 crewmembers and 23 “Gentleman Discoverers,” some of whom were intending to remain in the new world, departed from Falmouth, England on March 26, 1602. They sailed on board the Concord, a barque reportedly in poor condition and dangerously small for such a voyage yet they made the trip in 49 days. Cape Porpoise was the first land they laid eyes on, at 6 am on May 14, 1602. Gosnold referred to it as North Land.
Two diarists aboard the Concord on that voyage, Gabriel Archer and John Brereton, described an encounter with Native Americans at “Savage Rock”, calculated by scholars to be near Cape Neddick. At around noontime that same day, the Concord was boldly approached by a Basque Shallop, with sails and oars, carrying 8 natives.
Archer wrote of the encounter, “One that seemed to be their commander wore a waistcoat of a black wool, a pair of breeches, cloth stockings, shoes, hat and band, one or two more had also a few things made by some Christians; these with a piece of chalk described the coast thereabouts, and could name Placentia of Newfoundland; they spoke divers Christian words, and seemed to understand much more than we, for want of language could comprehend.”
John Brereton’s journal of the voyage, ‘Briefe and True Relation of the Discoverie of the North Part of Virginia in 1602′, was published in England later that year. The following pages of Brereton’s journal relate to May 14, 1602.
Read Gabriel Archer’s account here
Detailed description of Kennebunkport Village in 1840. Published in Kennebunkport summer newspaper ‘The Sea Shell’ August 1, 1913.
Boston & Maine Railroad Company built the Wells Beach station in 1872 after much advance press. Anticipating improved access to “watering” summer folk, resourceful businessmen Harrison B. Davis, his brother Alfred, and William A. Worster, started quietly buying up parcels of land in 1870.
A large, opulent hotel was erected in 1871 at the ocean end of what is today called Mile Road. Over 1400 guests were entertained there during the first season. The proprietors celebrated by adding an ell that contained sixty additional rooms which were occupant-ready by June of 1872. Island Ledge House was advertised to have large airy single and en suite rooms, wide halls lighted with gas, extensive verandas with unobstructed sea views on three sides, a billiard hall, bowling alleys, a croquet lawn, sailboats with skillful skippers and a quadrille band in constant attendance. For the first few years the day to day operations of the hotel were supervised by the Davis brothers.
William A. Worster took over in 1874. He placed a new ad that described the hotel as having “four stories with a mansard roof and about 200 rooms.” Such abundance could be enjoyed for just $3 a day. In contrast to the success enjoyed during its first few seasons the hotel was losing money under Worster’s management.
When the vacant, heavily insured complex of buildings burned to the ground on February 15, 1878, after five short years in operation, Worster was accused of incendiarism; a charge he denied. The case was settled out of court but further investigation uncovers the fact that another heavily insured building owned by Worster had burned in 1870 just months before he invested in the hotel development.
Worster married Berwick widow Juliette Ricker in 1875. She was a pretty well connected young lady. Her brother Sherman A. Ricker, known as the “Corn King” of the Chicago Board of Trade, was living in a wildly reckless manner and his siblings were his only known heirs. When the “Corn King” died in 1882 his estate was vast. William Worster’s bride stood to inherit hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The millionaire’s girlfriend, Elizabeth House, delayed disbursement of the funds by claiming that she and the deceased had been secretly married. Ultimately she was unable to prove her claim and Juliette Worster received her inheritance in 1885.
In the meantime, William Worster found himself in more legal trouble so he transferred all his assets into his wife’s name. The Boston Daily Advertiser reported the story on March 27, 1886.
“Strafford County Jail tonight contains an exceptional prisoner – William A. Worster of Great Falls. Worster is reputed very wealthy and has lived in Berwick, ME most of his life. His father died some years since leaving him a large fortune. The prisoner was proprietor for many years of the Island Ledge House, a large Hotel at Wells Beach, ME and married a lady worth $250,000. The Hotel was burned several years ago and there has been constant litigation ever since. Two years since the Grand Jury of York County Maine found an indictment against him for obtaining $900 by false pretenses from Sewell I. Cowell of Berwick. He then changed his residence to Great Falls, NH and the indictment still hangs over him. The Supreme Court at the February term, 1885, rendered judgment against Worster for $6054 in favor of his uncle, William A. Lord of Berwick, since deceased. Worster placed his property out of reach of the Sheriff who then had him arrested on suspicion of an intent to leave the State. J. Bagley and Charles Jones of Great Falls went bonds, Worster’s wife placing $6000 to their credit to guarantee them against loss. Worster declared he had no money and wanted to take the poor debtors’ oath, thinking plaintiff would not push the case any further. He came to jail this afternoon and surrendered himself and was astonished to find the council for the plaintiff there, who lodged $1000 in the jailer’s hands which is guarantee for the prisoner’s board for eight years. Worster declares he will stay, if necessary, rather than pay.”
Worster served five years. His stubbornness had been based on the assumption that his wife would continue to fund his litigation but it didn’t work out that way. Julliette ran off to Europe with prominent Somersworth, New Hampshire business man Emery J. Randall in 1888 leaving William A.Worster the pauper he had claimed to be.
Ye Old Garrison House, formerly located at the Garrison Suites Motel on the Post Road in Wells, was recently moved 1000 feet up and across Route One to the parking lot behind Mike’s Clam Shack.
Mark Gagnon, owner of the motel wanted the old building removed from his property. Hoping to preserve the historic landmark, Wells town officials asked Mike McDermott, who owns Mike’s Clam Shack, if he would be interested in having the old building moved to his property just north of its original lot. McDermott agreed and Chase Building Movers relocated the ‘Old Garrison House’ on Friday November 9th. McDermott plans to adapt the building to house his seasonal employees starting next year.
The nearly 200 year old house is worth saving for the history within its walls. Though not technically an old garrison house as its nickname suggests it was built near the site of the colonial Storer’s Garrison in 1816 with timbers salvaged from the original 17th Century building.
Storer’s Garrison, was probably the most important of the 7 or 8 garrisons in Wells during the French and Indian Wars. It was built by Joseph Storer on a rise in the marsh in 1679. Its fortification was unequaled in Wells and its open location made it difficult for Indians to approach unnoticed.
According to a description in the Collections of the Maine Historical Society the original garrison was “a large structure built with a palisade of heavy timbers placed close together, about ten feet from the house and entirely surrounding it. It is not believed that the second story of this garrison projected beyond the lower one as was usually the case in these early garrisons. The house had four turrets built one at each corner of the house and these turrets were used as watch towers.”
Storer’s Garrison offered effective refuge on June 9, 1691. Captain James Convers, Jr., Commander of the Militia there, had requested reinforcements from Essex County Massachusetts. 200 Indians under the leadership of Penobscot Sachem Moxus, attacked the fort just half an hour after the reinforcements had arrived. The Indians were repulsed. Another Penobscot Sachem Madockawando vowed to finish the job himself the following year, “My brother, Moxus, has missed it now but I go myself next year and have that dog, Converse, out of his den.”
Sure enough, in June of 1692, Madockawando, Moxus and other Indians attacked Storer’s Garrison with the help of French soldiers under command of Monsieur Labrocree. The attack lasted three days and was directed at the garrison and two sloops in the creek behind the fort. The sloops contained additional English soldiers, ammunition and supplies for the garrison. Every flaming arrow that met its mark on the sloops was extinguished because of the ingenious leadership of Lt. Joseph Storer. Inside the garrison, even the women of Wells entered the fight. Not only did they hand the soldiers ammunition but several ladies armed themselves with muskets and fired ferociously on the enemy. The French and Indians finally withdrew after three days. There were losses of life on both sides. The French Commander, Monsieur Labrocree did not survive the battle.
A granite monument commemorating the 1692 battle at the Storer Garrison still stands in a small park next to the Garrison Suites Motel. It was designed and erected by William E. Barry, Esq., in 1904. A plaque on the monument reads,
“To commemorate the defense of Lt. Joseph Storer’s Garrison on this ground by Capt. James Converse, 29 Massachusetts Soldiers, the neighboring yeomanry of Wells and various historic women; June 9, 10, and 11 1692, whereby 400 French and Indians were successfully resisted, and Wells remained the easternmost town in the Province not destroyed by the enemy.”
Storer’s Garrison was later bequeathed to John, Joseph Storer’s son. John Storer continued to offer refuge to his neighbors until the end of the French and Indian Wars. He was Wells Town Treasurer, representative to the General Court, and Judge of theInferior Court. He also built and owned ships and several mills in Wells and Kennebunk. E. E. Bourne writes, “John was distinguished for his bravery, patriotism and open-handed benevolence. He was at the taking ofLouisburg,Cape Breton Island,Canada,CapeBreton, in 1745. His valuable services to his townsmen and unfortunates driven from their homes in other places can scarcely be overestimated.”
In 1779, Isaac Pope purchased the Storer Garrison from Ebenezer Storer, another son of the man who built it. Ebenezer had distinguished himself as a soldier in the Revolutionary War.
The Pope Family’s ownership of the property was no less notable. Bourne calls Isaac a man of ” uncommon urbanity, distinguished all his life for that suavity of manner and general dignity of deportment which characterized the old English gentleman.” He too served in the Revolutionary War, attaining the rank of Major. After his discharge from that service, he was a Wells Selectmen for several years and engaged in coasting and farming.
Isaac and his wife Olive Jordan Hovey had eleven children. Three of their sons, John Sullivan Pope, Dominicus Pope and Ivory Pope, were mariners during the War of 1812. Ivory was impressed by the British and was never heard from again. Dominicus was taken prisoner by the British and carried to Dartmoor Prison inEngland. He remained there in deplorable conditions for several months before being released. Dominicus died atSt. Thomas,West Indies, of yellow fever.
Captain John Sullivan Pope returned from the War of 1812 and tore down the old Storer Garrison, reserving some of the good timbers to use in building a new house frame nearby. John S. Pope’s “new” 1816 house is the one that was moved up thePost Roadlast Friday. John was engaged in coasting while he and his wife Theodesia Littlefield raised a family in the house he had built. John S. Pope and his son John, Jr. after him, farmed the land upon which Moxus, Madockawando and Monsieur Labrocree were defeated in June of 1692.
The history hidden in the walls of that simple yellow colonial house now at rest behind Mike;’s Clam Shack was nearly swallowed up by motel development. Kudos to all those who went the extra mile to save the structure if not the historic site.