Out of Our Past

The Andersen House in East Boothbay, Part I

Posted:  Sunday, August 12, 2018 - 7:00am
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Many people have commented to me on the destruction of the Andersen house in East Boothbay. It was situated in a prime spot overlooking the mill pond and Linekin Bay on the corner of Andersen Road and Ocean Point Road. Brian Merrill, who bought it, hoped to save it but the rot caused him to change his mind.

Weston and Brenda Andersen and children moved into it in the mid-1950s; it was both their home and stoneware ceramic shop. Any number of Boothbay people (including me), as well as those from farther afield, worked there over the decades. The shop provided many year-round jobs, and during some decades there were as many ten or more non-family workers: moldmaking, casting, fettling, decorating, loading and unloading the kilns, grinding the finished product, packing, shipping all over the US, and tending on-site sales.

1700s

Being a prime spot, the building went way back, though not into the 1700s. When Boothbay was permanently resettled about 1730, the Robert and Sarah Montgomery family settled on Barlows Hill (its latest name of many) northeast above the Andersen house site. Their house site is now the Hamblett home, intended to overlook both the Damariscotta River and the mill pond from its height. Two sons were dead by 1764, but Samuel, Anna, and John survived. Samuel was down on Murray Hill, Anna was at Lobster Cove, and I believe John was at the Andersen site, about 800 feet from the family homestead. In 1772 both his mother and brother Samuel had frame houses, but John had a log house. Two-thirds of Boothbay's houses were then log, stacked squared timbers chinked with clay, moss, or what-have-you, and often with chimneys of clay and stick. They were meant to be the first temporary house but, in a poor area such as Boothbay, first and temporary could be permanent.

John died in his 40s in 1785, owning by then his land as well as his mother's including his log house, a huge amount from the mill pond north to above Little Meadow and Meadow Cove. It all went to his children, but I know nothing further of his log house or if it continued as a house site into the early 1800s.

1830s

Caleb Hodgdon moved to East Boothbay in the 1820s when there were still only four houses in the village proper, all owned by Montgomerys or extended family members. He started buying up land and took over the village tidemill and the shipyard sites. New residents flooded into the village for mill and shipyard jobs. In 1828, Caleb sold 23 acres, including the Andersen house lot, to Stephen Sawyer who came from Mt. Desert. Stephen mentioned his intent to build on the property in 1828, implying there were no buildings there, or no usable ones, and that the log house was gone or unlivable. By 1834 his house was built and he was taxed for it. It was a conventional south-facing cape with a handhewn timber frame. Eventually it was joined to another attached timber-framed cape or half-cape facing west, as seen in the photo. I don't know whether that addition was moved there or built there and attached to the old one. Both foundations had granite slabs above ground. Timber framing with 8x8s started to morph in the 1840s and 1850s to stick-built until we finally ended up with nominal 2x4s.

Next time: The story of the house continues up into the 1900s.