House For Sale: A Down East Home Sweet Home
From this year-round waterfront property in Tenants Harbor, Maine, you can see Andrew Wyeth’s summer house across the water. And the land once belonged to author Kenneth Roberts.
How many couples do you know who have 10 children? No twins or adopted children–just seven boys and three girls. Oh, and let’s add that the father is an only child. The mother, too. Now how many? Well, we recently visited with just such a couple, Warren and Evelyn Davis of Tenants Harbor, Maine. Both were raised on farms near Billerica, Massachusetts. They met at school, and their 69th wedding anniversary is coming up in July this year. Probably most, if not all, of those 10 children–now in their 50s and 60s–plus their 18 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren will come to their beautiful six-bedroom, year-round home on the St. George River to help them celebrate it. That is, unless it sells before then. (They’re asking $595,000, which includes almost an acre of land and 230 feet of ocean frontage.) In that case, they’ll probably congregate in nearby Rockland, where they hope to settle into a much smaller home (near some motels, we would assume).
“We’ve put our heart and soul into this place for over 50 years, so it’ll be sad to leave,” Evelyn said as we sat, admiring the view, with her and Warren on their front porch, the water just a few feet away. Yes, we could clearly see Andrew Wyeth’s summer place in Cushing across the river. Just out of sight on the opposite shore, about a half-mile toward the ocean, was the site of Christina’s World, Wyeth’s world-famous painting.
“Our oldest boy, now retired, was 12 when we built a 12-by-18-foot summer camp here in 1957,” Warren remembered. “It’s now our living room.” He went on to explain that he’d purchased the land from his cousin, who’d acquired 200 acres from none other than Kenneth Roberts (remember Northwest Passage?), who, after some sort of feud with the town, had decided to move away. “Every summer vacation we added to it,” he said. (In those years Warren was an engineer working on jets for General Electric Aviation in Lynn, Massachusetts.) “We had no electricity and had to carry our water in from half a mile away. We built an outhouse at our home in Massachusetts and brought it here by trailer, much to the amusement of our friends.”
While Warren and Evelyn were adding to their “camp,” as they called it back then, they were, of course, also adding to their family. “We loved our location on this little cove because the rocks out there heated the water as much as 10 degrees–perfect for the kids to swim in,” Warren said.
After Warren retired from General Electric in 1983, he and Evelyn made this place in Maine their year-round home, adding room after room, building everything themselves. “Each of our children really helped a lot,” Warren recalled. “One of the boys is an electrician; several, besides myself, are good carpenters; the girls did the furniture and decor; and all the boys know a bit of plumbing.” In short, Evelyn and Warren had all the building expertise needed right in their immediate family. So the place slowly but surely grew out of “camp” status into the beautiful, comfortable, impressive oceanfront home it is today.
Besides a spacious, modern kitchen, there’s a dining room, a family room, a living room (the one that was once their “camp” and now featuring a gorgeous stone fireplace built, of course, by Warren himself), three bedrooms, and two bathrooms. But that’s just the half of it. Attached to the main home is a two-story building housing a two-car garage, in which we spotted a beautiful 16-foot Starcraft with a 90-horsepower Johnson engine, easily launched out a rear door onto a ramp down to the water. (Yes, you could probably convince Warren to include that in the deal.)
There’s also a workshop in there, replacing the workshop in a good-sized outbuilding now used for equipment and storage. Upstairs is a huge playroom featuring a nine-foot antique slate pool table that’s truly a showpiece. And along the back wall of this room is Warren’s toy truck collection. He has hundreds, each one beautifully displayed. (Doubt he’d part with those.)
Off the playroom are three additional bedrooms, plus a room Evelyn currently uses for her sewing, needlepoint, and crafts. She’s made countless beautiful things over the years but had none to show us. “The kids always want everything I make right away,” she explained.