A Moveable Feast
The couple behind Trillium, midcoast's celebrated catering company, knows how to bring the party home.
The couple behind Trillium, midcoast's celebrated catering company, knows how to bring the party home.
As far as impulse buys go, it was a doozy. The first time Dianne Haas, a Boston-based architectural designer, saw the Bridge House, it was a mess. Falling down, just like the song goes about that bridge in London. On her way to Vinalhaven with time to spare, she’d driven past it by chance. “I had a guidebook with me, it said South Bristol: Authentic Fishing Village,’” said Dianne. “I went across the bridge and here is this building, falling apart, with a cardboard sign that said, ‘For Sale.’ A cardboard sign!”
Bill barely eats now, but he will try for me. He asks for my collards. It is a joke—that his little sister, the only Yankee in the family, makes Southern food. I cling to certain traditions, making collards and black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. Eating my luck. I leave out onion, which Bill hates. “Onions is the devil’s food,” he’d complain. “They hurt me. They’re just mean.”
On Mount Desert Island, Martha Stewart’s elegant summer estate, Skylands, reigns supreme. Set near the crest of Ox Hill, with a massive facade hewn from the region’s renowned pink granite, it overlooks Seal Harbor with a sort of heavenly beneficence—the perfect perch for a domestic goddess.
Since the late 19th century, artists have been drawn to Maine, most particularly her rugged isles for their unflinching solitude and unsullied beauty. Monhegan Island (its name means “out-to-sea island” in Algonquin), floating 12 miles off Maine’s midcoast, is one of the most renowned. Captured on canvas by painters such as Rockwell Kent, Jamie Wyeth, and Edward Hopper, it continues to attract artists and their appreciators to this day. Sarah E. Webb is one of them. A multidisciplinary artist with a career woven of many threads—writer, independent curator, and yoga instructor—she first encountered the island the summer of 2005. “I knew from the moment I got on the boat that this island spoke to me in a soulful way,” she remembers. “I had barely walked up the dock and there was something inside of me that said, ‘I don't ever want to leave.’”
The gull’s eye view of Wheaton Island, situated 23 miles off the coast of Port Clyde (43.8615° N, 68.8798° W), population 2, shows a mere handful of buildings: a house, guest house and two studios. This spare assemblage, perched on a rough ledge of rock, sand, and shrub, is the ruggedly lovely summer dwellings of painters Bo Bartlett and Betsy Eby.
Spied on a snowy day, the home of Scott and Julie Pelletier seems transported from some Arctic clime, perhaps a Norwegian fishing village or a Finnish hamlet. The exterior has all the hallmarks of Nordic design, sleek lines and natural elements, while the interior exudes a beckoning warmth from its many windows—the very essence of hygge. And that is no mistake. The home is firmly rooted in Scandinavian minimalism and expertly rendered by Portland’s Barrett Made.
Maine is famous for a lot of things—lobster and moose, innumerable pine-dotted islands, a certain salty authenticity. But high fashion? Not so much. The state’s stalwart brand, L.L. Bean, while a titan of outdoor wear, is known more for its chamois shirts and weatherproof parkas than cutting-edge style. All that changed last February when Todd Snyder, the celebrated menswear designer and four-time Council of Fashion Designers of America Menswear Designer of the Year nominee, sent Bean boots strutting down the runway during New York Fashion Week.
“I think that house is pretty unique. It’s an inverted plan. That takes a certain commitment to walking up the stairs with your groceries,” says Riley, with a laugh. “The trick was to make the experience of going up the stairs as architectural as possible because it’s integral to going to the heart of the home.”
If you think a background in fine art and pharmacology isn’t the stuff of DIY dynamos, you haven’t met the Days. Sarah Madeira Day is a full-time painter, and her husband, Wes, is a pharmacist, and with their particular admixture of artistry and chemistry, the pair have not one but three renovations under their belt, the latest being what they call a “fancy fix-up” in South Freeport.
AS THE FERRY APPROACHES the island of Vinalhaven through a summer fog, the craggy coast and pine trees appear out of the mist like another realm, a place bewitched. This sensation only continues when I reach the shore and step inside Marston House, the antiques shop and home of Sharon and Paul Mrozinski. Brimming with French and American furnishings, housewares, textiles, clothing, and other enchanting objects, it feels both timeless and charmed. A sign in the window promises: Homespun linen; Useful antiques.
Frank Grdich, the owner of Bulfinch Antiques in Kennebunk, fell into the business by happenstance. While managing DePrisco’s Jewelers in Massachusetts, he and his partner, Bill Floyd, would attend antiques auctions for fun. “I saw all these dealers buying box lots. I said to them, ‘What do you do with all this stuff?’ And they said, ‘We quit our jobs. We became antiques dealers!’” On a whim, Frank gave it a try. “One day, I bought a box lot and made more money selling those few antiques than I did all week in the couture jewelry business.” His eye was good, honed, no doubt, over countless hours of studying carats under a loupe. “I had a good eye for well-made things like silver and fine china,” says Frank. He could tell the difference between ordinary glass and Baccarat and Waterford at a glance.
Perched at the edge of Sheepscot River, the house of Steve Doyon and Paula Valenza in Edgecomb feels like a bit of a secret—found at the end of a winding road where a sign reads: “La Escondida Del Mar,” The Hidden Sea. Paula is from Argentina, and Steve, born in Presque Isle to Maine natives (Mom from Caribou, Dad from Augusta), moved away as a youth and found his way back by happenstance. As the CEO of Novatus Energy, a renewable energy platform based in New York City, he was driving up to a company retreat when he rediscovered the charm of the midcoast. When the New York–based couple searched for a second residence, they were surprised to find this cedar-sided midcentury-style split-level after a sea of traditional Colonials. The house, seen in profile, seems to jut over the riverbank, almost as if it is doing a balancing act.
Growing up, I thought I hated beer. I’d only snuck sips of my dad’s Budweisers and Michelobs, the lager-lite sour suds he quaffed after mowing the lawn. Then I turned 18 and spent a semester in Belgium. Salut, Saisons! Bonjour, Krieks! My middling French took a petit backseat while I studied the local libations over verb conjugations. (Sorry, Mom!) Years later, that frisson of discovery returns whenever I visit Oxbow and raise a pint. In 2011, Tim Adams founded Oxbow Brewing Company in a Newcastle farmhouse. Inspired by European traditions and imbued with American ingenuity, Oxbow has risen to the top of Maine-made craft brews like the foam on a perfectly poured IPA. In eight short years, Tim has steadily expanded from Newcastle to Portland to Oxford, where Oxbow Beer Garden opened last April.
Maine comes by the nickname “Vacationland” honestly. The Pine Tree State possesses nearly 3,500 miles of craggy coastline and pristine forests, quaint towns, and bustling cities, and offers as many ways to stay in the state as there are buoys in the bays. With such a wealth of choice, it can be a challenge to narrow it down. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite four-star boutique hotel escapes to suit every sensibility. From sunny riverside bungalows to urbane art deco city digs, from a nature lover’s hip haven to European-style luxury in Maine’s midcoast. Whether you’re from away or just looking to get away, we’ve got you covered.
When fine art photographer Carl Austin Hyatt was a boy, he was certain that nature had a consciousness, that even rocks had a soul. “Nature is conscious and alive; it’ll interact with you,” says Hyatt. “It’s not just the background of our lives. All children know this.” While Hyatt’s childhood may be far behind him, he has managed to preserve this sense of wonder and connection. It is evident in the sentience of his landscapes and the sensitivity of his portraits. Raised on Long Island, Hyatt was in his thirties when he was drawn to New Hampshire. His studio, in Portsmouth’s Button Factory, is just a short walk from the craggy coastline he calls an infinite source of inspiration. “I was visiting here and I was astounded to see the coast of New Hampshire,” says Hyatt. “You can just pull off the side of the road, park your car, take your camera out, and have the whole rocky world to yourself.”
When Dr. Elizabeth Strawbridge, known to most as Liz, was a teen, a concerning bout with anemia landed her in an oncologist’s office. Little did she realize then that this frightening experience would be so formative and become an essential source of inspiration. “As a 15-year-old, I figured out that meant cancer doctor,” she says, remembering that she felt scared on the drive there. But then something surprising happened. “We pull up, and my mom and I thought we had the address wrong because we’d arrived at a barn. We walked in and there was a fireplace, there were books, there was a rocking chair. We went in one of the rooms, which had a simple bed and wood walls and was really cozy. It was amazing. You would have had no idea that you were in a doctor’s office, and here this is a Yale New Haven pediatric oncologist! It was the most amazing medical experience I’ve ever had, and that opened my mind. A seed was planted that there was a different way.”
No offense to cat people, but I’m a dog person and so, as it happens, is the team behind Batson River Brewing & Distilling’s Tasting Room, Kennebunk’s newest watering hole. If the pointer on their logo didn’t give it away, a real live dog may even greet you on the premises, or at least his portrait will. Rigby, the 11-year-old American bulldog of head distiller and co-owner Matt Dyer, inspired everything from the decor to a namesake beer. Rigby, a winning combination of laid-back and jolie-laide, is, if you’ll forgive me, the pub’s “spirit” animal.
As a girl growing up on the Gulf Coast, I was an Anglophile, as improbable as it sounds, smitten with the Beatles and devoted to The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. During long, sunburnt suburban summers, I holed up in my room dreaming of windy moors and teatime. It all comes back when I step into Sarah and Zack Whitridge’s home in Portland’s West End, a cape-end Greek Revival cottage from the mid-1800s, where the bookcases are lined with vintage editions of Evelyn Waugh and a cup of tea is always brewing.
In the movie Downsizing, a man played by actor Matt Damon literally shrinks himself to fit into a smaller but more luxurious home, neighborhood, and life. The decision to minimize is aspirational, the very opposite of a downgrade. Recently, Soozie Large did a similar thing—minus the actual shrinking. She sold her 3,647-square-foot, five-bedroom, four-bathroom West End home and bought a much smaller, beautifully appointed condominium in Portland’s East End.
The couple behind Trillium, midcoast's celebrated catering company, knows how to bring the party home.
In Portland’s West End, a classic Colonial gets an elegant update from Knickerbocker Group
When Jim Bilodeau and Lee Marquis started their search for a camp not far from their hometown of Portland, they almost didn’t give the cottage in Rome a chance. Turned off by the Realtor’s photo showing vinyl siding and what looked like a cheek-to-jowl situation with a neighboring building (it turned out to be a garden shed), they almost missed the dwelling’s many charms. Luckily, they persuaded themselves to do a walk-through anyway, and the rest is history. Just stepping inside the cottage took the Auburn natives back to the summers of their youth. Jim was reminded of lazy days on Lily Lake. In fact, the cottage felt redolent of his grandparents’ camp in Frankfort in a way that took him awhile to put his finger on. “I later figured out it was really the smell of mothballs,” Jim laughs. Suffice to say, after a sunny update, the cottage isn’t the least bit stuffy.
ALLISON PAIGE, Writer “All my edges have worn off,” Allison says, and it is easy to see in the newfound wistfulness she brings to describing her 19th-century cape on Munjoy Hill and quarantine days spent with her young son. “Writing for Decor Maine, I’ve gotten to tour interiors of all kinds, and each time I see my own home a little differently. Sometimes, it’s as if I’ve returned from a castle to find my own home turned into a pumpkin. Other times, I feel the embrace of a kindred spirit.” Now, like so many others, she finds the space transformed into “a little bit of everything.” A school, an office, a restaurant, a gym, a fort, a hostel. Lately, she and Stellan have taken to drawing their dream homes. “We both like ‘witchy’ houses,” Allison says. “My requirements are a fireplace, a claw-foot tub, and a library tall enough to need a ladder. His are secret passageways, trapdoors, and enchanted chambers. We may never get the exact domiciles we imagine, but right now our home, however imperfect, is a place of great comfort, calm, succor, and yes, shelter.”
For centuries, escape artists have astonished audiences with their abilities to break free of their binds and thwart man-made captivity. Think of the great Houdini himself, shedding winding ropes and chains and maybe even a padlock or two to achieve an exhilarating freedom. Here, we share with you some of our favorite landscape designers, magicians in their own right, who perform similar feats, crafting environments that help us slough off the shackles of our confinements by beautifying our surroundings, expanding the senses, promoting a sense of well-being, and creating, you guessed it, great escapes.
Arthur Davison Ficke, an American poet and aficionado of Japanese art, once said, “Collecting at its best is very far from mere acquisitiveness; it may become one of the most humanistic of occupations, seeking to illustrate … the march of the human spirit in its quest for beauty.” This June, Maine College of Art (MECA) will hold COLLECT, its annual summer art show, giving all interested buyers a chance to try their own hand at this most humanistic of occupations.
All over Bowdoin College campus in Brunswick you can see classic red-brick buildings. Some of them, like Massachusetts Hall, date all the way back to 1799. But explore a bit further and you will come upon a structure that is totally unique, a cubistic building of glass and wood, at once terrifically modern and organic enough to have sprung up there on its own, like a mushroom or one of the campus’s iconic white pines. It is the Roux Center for the Environment, an edifice that more than lives up to its name. Made possible in part by a $10 million gift from donors David and Barbara Roux, the Roux Center opened in October 2018 and is home to the Environmental Studies program, a coordinate major that encourages students to combine the interdisciplinary focus of a liberal arts education with specializations in environmental concerns.
The view from Will and Debby Ethridge’s home in York is timeless: the craggy coast and expansive blue of York Harbor unhindered, clear out to the Isles of Shoals. It is the same view Childe Hassam, the American impressionist painter, captured so faithfully throughout his career. Of the boundless scenery, Hassam once wrote, “The rocks and the sea are the few things that do not change.” Will Ethridge would surely agree. Over the years, this indelible seascape, one his family has enjoyed going on five generations, has changed little. Although Will grew up in Boston and Greenwich, Connecticut, he spent every summer at his grandmother’s summer home in York. His grandmother owned Seaward, one of the august Gilded Age summer homes built overlooking the harbor at the turn of the 20th century. Every summer, she and her family swapped the swelter of Boston for the cool Maine breezes. Since the 1930s, just a couple of decades short of a century, Will’s family has summered on this bluff.
Step through the lofty doors of the pre–Civil War era church-turned-home of Donna McNeil in Rockland, and the first thing you notice is a sense of openness and beauty, and the accompanying feelings of serenity and graciousness—all words that could be used to describe McNeil herself. “There’s something that happens when you walk in here, in terms of expansiveness,” she says. “You become lifted and open in a way. It’s not oppressively religious, but it has some spirituality here.”
When Harry Hepburn met Chris Briley, it was synergy. That’s a bit of jargon that gets thrown about recklessly, but here it truly applies. The two began sailing together in the summer of 2012 and found that they made a great team, both on board and off. Briley headed the Green Design Studio of Yarmouth; Hepburn worked at Scott Simons Architects in Portland. Soon after, they synthesized their energies, experience, even their surnames to create Portland-based Briburn.
The story of how one extraordinary young woman lost her father, saved his company, and learned to trust herself.
For a few months every summer, hundreds of dancers flock to Lewiston, where the Bates Dance Festival has created the perfect alchemy of inspiration, dedication, and perspiration. Preparing to celebrate its thirtieth season, the festival’s founder, its longtime director, and a veteran dancer provide a glimpse at what goes on behind the curtain.
As a child on Long Island, New York, Jack Cooleen played soccer, lacrosse, basketball, hockey, and baseball. He moved to Maine in third grade. In seventh grade, he began to play football, the sport he excels at today and that regularly lands him in the pages of local newspapers. As the record holder for the most receiving yards and touchdowns in Falmouth High SchoolÕs history, Cooleen, in his junior year, was named FalmouthÕs first ever All-State player by the Maine Sunday Telegram. He went on to make All-Conference three years in a row in football, basketball, and lacrosse. The Portland Press Herald called him Ò…one of the few receivers defense has to include in their game plan.Ó Last season he averaged 18 yards per catch and scored 14 touchdowns.
Texas may claim him, but singer-songwriter Slaid Cleaves can’t stay away from Maine. At his remote downeast camp, Cleaves gets back to nature, remembers his roots, and recalls the start of it all, at Portland’s Three Doors of Hell.
The Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine has had a growth spurt. Formerly located in Downtown Portland in a Greek Revival building that was high on charm but low on wiggle room, the organization recently opened a state-of-the-art facility at Thompson’s Point. Just off I-295, the new location offers easy accessibility, ample parking, food and drink nearby, and most importantly, room to grow.
ON MOUNT DESERT ISLAND’S SOUTHWEST harbor, Becky Madeira and Grant Castle’s midcentury home nestles on a remote, windswept spot just beside the Southwest Seawall. The cedar-clapboard Deck home and adjacent cottage, once nondescript brown, were painted by the couple a sea-smoke gray. “My idea was to make it disappear, to make it look like a big rock,” explains Becky. The monochromatic exterior looks unobtrusive, even organically appropriate, like a boulder or a tree bent by the north wind. But if the outside looks low and cool, inside it is woodsy and warm.
“LIFE WITHOUT INDUSTRY is guilt, and industry without art is brutality,” the 19th-century English art critic John Ruskin once wrote. Anyone who has toiled in a windowless cube staring at one of those bought-in-bulk motivational posters featuring a whale tail emblazoned with words like INSPIRATION knows exactly what he was talking about. For the lucky folks at WEX, a leading financial technology services provider, art and technology come together beautifully at the company’s new global headquarters at 1 Hancock Street in Portland. Recently, WEX collaborated with Liz Moss, of Elizabeth Moss Galleries in Falmouth, and SMRT Architects and Engineers of Portland to curate a selection of Maine art to inspire and motivate in a way those corny old posters never could.
DON’T TELL ALADDIN, but most carpets are far from magic. In fact, the conventional carpet industry is a notorious polluter from toxic runoff during production to installation, when the off-gassing of volatile organic compounds in flame retardants and stain resisters makes it hazardous to indoor occupants. From fabrication to installation to disposal, carpet can be a dirty business, and that’s before anybody even steps on it. Enter Interface. Founded in 1973, the LaGrange, Georgia, company is one of the world’s largest producers of modular carpet tiles. It has since led the charge of what it calls an “industrial re-revolution” to create responsibly produced, Earth-friendly textiles. Account executive Jill Albers details how her company became an environmental catalyst, evolving from detrimental production methods to the cutting edge of sustainable design.
For a homeowner who grew up summering in York, Maine, this Cape Neddick summer home brings back memories. “I’ve been coming to York my whole life,” she says, recalling her stays at her grandmother’s summer cottage near Long Sands beach, swimming in the ocean, and combing the shore for beach glass.
To get the full measure of Erin and Matt Hutton’s 1919 gambrel in Portland, diminutive in size at 1,200 square feet but big of heart, one has only to take a look at the large ruler hanging on their dining room wall. Given to them by Erin’s brother 13 years ago, when their daughter, Emma, was born, the wooden measuring stick shows, penciled at its edges, the heights of many people. “We don’t just take measurements of our family. It’s our neighbors, anyone who wants to do it. They can be part of our family.”
Most of Kate Horgan’s design decisions are made by instinct and intuition. “And I live my life that way, too,” she declares. Kate attended the New York School of Interior Design in her 20s and began designing even earlier than that. “As a child, I think I changed my room every week, this small child moving large pieces of furniture,” she says with a laugh. “My mother couldn’t hang a picture; she couldn’t commit, and it used to drive me crazy!” Her parents bought a 200-bed hotel on the Jersey Shore and gave her carte blanche to design the dining room while still a student—her first project. She later created Darché Designs and has had a hand in designing many homes, her own in particular.
John shows me a clock on the stairs that, while not the original, is a Roxbury tall case clock that dates back to 1820, a time when even Longfellow might have seen it. Longfellow’s poem mused, even then, about the provenance of the building and its past occupants, the children who played there, the new bride, of all whom had lived and died there, and the inexorable passage of time. I find myself wondering in a similar fashion, over the Chases and Henshaws, junior and senior, and of the many people who, over more than 230 years, passed through these rooms.
Joshua and Abby Manahan and their young son Kelly share their gracious 1,720-square-foot three-bedroom, three-bathroom house with their pointer dogs Cider and Cowboy and guinea pigs Peanut and Birch. Grace, or “Gussy,” their 26-year-old retired harness racehorse (whom Josh calls their beloved “pet and lawn ornament”), grazes placidly in the pasture nearby. It’s a full and happy home.
Although from away, Ron Kaufman has spent many a summer in Poland Springs, in a historic 1920s camp on the lip of Tripp Lake, that he and his former wife bought and enjoyed with their two daughters. “It’s a lovely home, beautifully done, but it’s a camp,” says Kaufman. “You have to buckle it up and close it down and put sheets on the furniture. I always say the saddest part of every year is when we have to close it up and the happiest day is opening it up again.”