The Captain Lord Mansion

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August 02, 2011

Special Events from the Past at the Captain Lord Mansion, a Kennebunkport Bed & Breakfast Inn

 Lg Treasured Memories
Painting called "Treasured Memories" by Dennnis Perrin

For Charles Clark and his family, summers in Maine were a time of joyous family gatherings and celebrations.  One such event is reported in the Saturday, July 16, 1887 edition of The Wave, another local newspaper of the period.  It tells us that “Mr. Charles P. Clark, President of the New York and New Haven Railroad arrives at his residence today to attend the wedding of his daughter which takes place Wednesday.” We also read that Mr. Clark arrived by his own private railway coach, while other prominent guests arrived later by chartered railway coaches. The Wednesday, July 20, 1887 edition of The Wave describes the wedding:  “Wedding bells ring joyously to a brilliant marriage.  Professor Hincks and Bessie Clark are made one in the presence of a distinguished company.  The event took place in the parlor of the old ’Lord Mansion’ which has been in the Clark family for generations.  Strange to relate this is the first marriage to be celebrated in the old home since 1834 when the bride’s grandmother (Susan Lord Clark, daughter of Nathaniel Lord) was wedded.  The house itself was decked out in imposing style in honor of the event.  Evergreens were intertwined around the iron-rods of the front yard fence, presenting a unique and beautiful spectacle, which was brightened by an arch of oak boughs over the door.”  We think it is interesting to note the use of evergreen and oak boughs for decorations for a summer wedding; yet, there is no mention of flowers or ribbon. One is left only to contemplate the natural beauty of the greenery used for this wedding. 

The "parlor" mentioned in the newspaper article is now the B&B's guest-room "Merchant".  We have been told it was called the "wedding, wake and baptism" room.  When we purchased the Captain Lord Mansion in 1978, that room still had its original 1812 wallpaper.  Since the paper was badly degraded, stained and literally falling off the walls, we had it removed and donated salvageable portions to the local historical society.  Framed remnants will be on diplay next summer at the Kennebunkport Historical Society's exhibition center named after a local artist, Henry Pasco and his sister Priscilla.

DoorstopsDanas Wedding 195 
Dana and Eric cut the wedding cake in the "Mansion's Carriage House".

Bev and I celebrated out daughter Dana's wedding reception at the Captain Lord Mansion on Aug 31st, 2003.  She and her new husband Eric Nielsen were married at the Village Baptist Church in Kennebunkport that day and were escorted back to the inn and the reception by horse and carriage. We had the reception  in the old "Mansion" barn and carriage house. That was the last time the carriage house was that clean and neat!  Thus, the "Mansion's" tradition of being a center for family celebrations continues!  I will write about Dana's wedding in the next blog!  Your innkeeper, Rick Litchfield

July 26, 2011

Charles P. Clark's Final Renovations to the Captain Lord Mansion, a Kennebunkport Bed & Breakfast Inn

 CLM Old Staircase 
 
Old Staircase at the entrance to the Bed & Breakfast Office

We believe it is fortunate that Charles decided to restrict his major alterations to the rear portion of the "mansion" and pretty much leave the front section alone, because much of the original 1812 architectural details still exist in that section of the building.  For example, there is the sweeping, suspended elliptical staircase at the front entrance, a 4 storey spiral cupola staircase which graces the center of the building, as well as the towering arches down the center hall,  hand-grained, painted doors with original "box locks" and so much more for visitors to marvel at and to enjoy today.  Also, there is a newly-exposed, narrow “servants staircase” that is by the entrance to the present-day inn office. The old staircase retains all the original 1812 architectural details such as narrow and steep stairs and little wall cubbies.

The April 20, 1900 edition of the Eastern Star reported that “Mr. Charles P. Clark is having a large porch built at the entrance to his mansion.”  That “large porch” actually is the Greek Revival style portico (canopy with pillars) now at the front of the inn.  Once again, the photographic record tells us that it replaced an arbor that originally graced the front door of the building.  This was the last renovation, which Charles would do; he died March 21, 1901 at Nice, France.

More to come about a special summer event held at the Captain Lord Mansion during Charles's ownership.  Your innkeeper, Rick Litchfield

CLM Hand Grained Door 
Original hand-grained door in 1812 section of the Mansion

July 19, 2011

Did You Know That the Last Major Structural Renovation of Captain Lord Mansion, a Kennebunkport Bed & Breakfast Inn was completed by Charles P. Clark, Nathaniel's Grandson-in-Law?

1898 Photo of the CLM 
The Captain Lord Mansion before Charles Clark's 1898 Renovations

It appears that Daniel moved from Kennebunkport to Malden, Massachusetts sometime between 1840 and 1850.  Then, his sister Susan (Lord) and her husband Peter Clark became owners of record and resided in the home for some period of time in the mid 1800’s. As far as can be discerned from diaries available to me, they made no structural changes to the building.  However, it was their son Charles P. Clark who would make the most dramatic and final changes to the “Mansion”.

Charles P. Clark was a wealthy industrialist and railroad magnate.  As president of the New York - New Haven Railroad, he could afford two homes.  His primary residence in the late 1800's was a large Victorian brownstone at 222 Orange Ave., New Haven, CT.  However, Charles inherited the “Mansion” from his parents, Susan (Lord) and Peter Clark.  As was the fashion in upscale resorts for the wealthy in such places as Newport RI, Bar Harbor, and Kennebunkport, Charles occupied his “summer cottage” for only eight to ten weeks each season.

In 1898 Charles funded extensive renovations to the “Mansion”.  The Friday, April 15, 1898 edition of the Eastern Star, a local newspaper of the period, reported that “Mr. Charles P. Clark is to remove the ell of his mansion and replace it by the addition of three stories high and costing more than $5,000. The large barn is in the process of removal to another part of his lot.”  Once again the photographic record circa 1880 helps to visualize the appearance of the “Mansion” prior to Charles’ renovations.  The whole rear portion of the inn exists almost exactly as the renovations from this period left it.

New research indicates that Charles Clark, as did his grandfather Nathaniel Lord, chose a renowned architect to supervise construction on the “Mansion”. William Ralph Emerson was involved with the detailed architectural plans provided by his firm for the 1898 renovations.  The original 1898 renovation blueprints are preserved at the Kennebunkport Historical Society.

Mr. Clark’s renovations resulted in significant interior changes; primarily to the east or rear part of the building. The front half of the structure received limited alterations.  The “Mansion’s” present main staircase is an 1898 addition.  The inn’s “Gathering Room” was originally the kitchen.  Charles’ remodeling resulted in the room’s 18’ concave bay window, curved window seat, high Victorian wainscoting, “target” door moldings and the heavy beamed ceiling.  Additionally, today’s kitchen with its large black coal stove was also part of the remodeling.  The rear half of the third floor of the building also dates from 1898 changes.  As seen in the above picture from the period, the back half of the “Mansion” was originally only 2 stories high, dating from Daniel’s last renovations in the mid 1800s.

There are some interesting additional notes about the 1898 renovations.  I'll cover those in the next blog.  Your innkeeper, Rick Litchfield, innkeeper

July 12, 2011

Did You Know That the Captain Lord Mansion, a Kennebunkport Bed & Breakfast Inn was Remodelled in the Early 1800's by Daniel W. Lord, Nathaniel's Oldest Son?

1898 Photo of the CLM 
The Captain Lord Mansion circa mid to late 1800's

After Nathaniel's death in 1815, The Mansion continued to be his wife Phebe Lord’s home throughout her life.  Widowed at an early age, she never remarried.  Did the burden of raising their nine children keep her focused away from romantic inclinations?  One might think so!  Her oldest son Daniel W. Lord became her closest companion and protector.  Family diaries record Phebe making frequent trips to and from Boston with Daniel and his wife Lydia during the mid 1800’s.

Daniel’s own written records instructs us that he was active in the ownership and management of the “Mansion” from a time shortly after his father’s death until the 1850’s.  In a journal entry dated 1824, Daniel records that he made “an addition to the ‘Mansion’ commencing August 23rd, and ending Oct 2nd.”  No other written details reveal to us the exact nature of the addition.  However, photographs from that time show two, 2-story ells at the rear (east side) of the house.  Perhaps, Daniel added one or both of the ells.  In a diary entry from 1844, Daniel records that he “raised and put a new roof on the south 2 story part of the ‘Mansion’ and painted the roof with two coats of fish oil and varnish, half each with 3/4 yellow and 1/4 Spanish brown mixed together.  This included new shingles over the roof and the south door.”  Again a photograph from the 1850’s shows one 2-story ell at the rear east-facing side of the building. I have found detailed records of maintenance and additional changes for which both Daniel and Nathaniel were responsible.  However, Daniel was not the last of Nathaniel’s descendents to make extensive changes to the “Mansion”.  I'll cover that in my next Blog.  Your innkeeper, Rick Litchfield

July 05, 2011

Did You Know That the Captain Lord Mansion, A Kennebunkport Bed & Breakfast Inn was built 197 Years Ago in 1814?

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The Captain Lord Mansion: The beginning of the story!

Fear gripped the entire New England coastline during the War of 1812. The British had marched on Washington and loosened their anger at having lost the previous war with the colonies, the American Revolution!  The angry British soldiers looted and burned.  Additionally, there was a British blockade of all commerce, plus their very meaningful threats to burn any coastal towns that continued to engage in commerce.  Enterprising citizens in seaports from Virginia to Massachusetts believed their cities and towns could be next to bear the wrath of English man-o-wars.  It was in this atmosphere of restricted mercantile activity that Nathaniel Lord, a wealthy Kennebunkport merchant and shipbuilder, decided to build his beautiful “Mansion”.  After all, what was he to do with his idle shipwrights?

Twenty-one year-old Nathaniel Lord married sixteen-year-old Phebe Walker on July 2, 1797.  Phebe was the daughter of another wealthy citizen, Daniel Walker.  Daniel gave the young couple a dowry of land that encompasses the area between Pleasant, Pearl and Maine Streets, where they built their first home in 1799.  Still standing, it is a white clapboard Colonial home of modest proportions.  That parcel of land also provided enough space where Nathaniel & Phebe would build their “Mansion” thirteen years later.

York County court papers provide documentation that distinguished Maine house-wright, Thomas Eaton was involved with the design and construction of the Captain Lord Mansion.  Nathaniel Lord’s estate papers include among the administrator’s expenses, several payments to a “T. Eaton. Today, Thomas Eaton is widely recognized for the excellence of his Federal buildings which include Kennebunk landmarks such as the Taylor Barry House, the Unitarian Church and Wallingford Hall.  Unfortunately, Nathaniel died of influenza at the age of 39 in 1815 and really didn't live long enough to enjoy his "mansion".

As I researched new information for this history, I have encountered new evidence and better documentation that the Captain Lord Mansion was actually built in 1814, not 1812.  I guess we'll have to postpone the celebration for a couple of years.  However, I'll continue my blogs this year with the history and it will become the basis of a booklet we'll publish in 1814. This blog covers the beginning of the facinating history for the Captain Lord Mansion.  I'll continue the saga in future posts and on our Facebook account.  Your innkeeper, Rick Litchfield

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