The Kennebunks comprise the towns of Kennebunk and Kennebunkport, but on the map you will also find Kennebunk Beach and Kennebunk Landing. It is not unusual for a town to spawn an offshoot with ‘port’ on the end,.it usually happened when a nearby location proved to be a better site for a harbour. Kennebunk and Kennebunkport have a slightly different story because they are centred on different rivers, the Mousam and the Kennebunk. In 1669 a sawmill was built at Kennebunk on the Mousam River. At this point the rivers are barely 1.6 km (1 mile) apart and a sawmill built in 1681 on the Kennebunk river was also within the town. With abundant timber in the area, a shipbuilding industry sprang up on the Mousam, possibly as early as 1730. A bar across the mouth of the Mousam made navigation difficult, so from the 1750s shipbuilding began to transfer to the more navigable Kennebunk River, and the last ship was built on the Mousam in 1793. A town called Cape Porpoise on the Kennebunk River had been incorporated in 1653. Indian attacks forced forced the townsfolk out in 1689. It was re-established in 1718 slightly further upriver with the new name of Arundel. In 1821 in recognition of its importance as a shipbuilding centre and port, the town was renamed Kennebunk Port. The name Arundel reappeared on maps in 1957 as the new name of North Kennebunkport. Tourism is now big business in the Kennebunks and Kennebunkport is the summer home of one of America’s top political families, the Bush family.
St Ann's Church
St, Ann’s Episcopal Church sits on Cape Arundel, to the west of Walker Point where the Bush Compound is located. Construction of the church began in 1887 on land donated by the Kennebunkport Seashore Company. The original plan was to build a wooden structure, but the the land donation included the right to gather and use stones on the site. Large sea-washed stones on the land allowed a stone church to be built at low cost, creating a church with an unusual look. The church was consecrated by the Bishop of Maine in August 1892, and has been in continuous use as a summer chapel ever since. A south transept and baptistery were added in 1920 and in 1925 a north transept was adding bringing the capacity of the church to 350. The church underwent major restoration early in the 21st century.
Connecticut Co Car 303, Seashore Trolley Museum
Biddeford and Saco on opposite sides of the Saco River used to be connected by am 11 km (7 mile) long streetcar service, but in 1939 it closed down. A group of enthusiasts purchased one of the open streetcars to preserve it. The mayor of Biddeford ordered the enthusiasts to remove the streetcar from the town, so it was taken to a site 12 km (7.5 miles) south near Kennebunkport. Several other cars had been acquired by the time US participation in World War II brought activities to a halt. After the war and though the 1950s, the rate of conversion of streetcars to bus routes speeded up and the Seashore Electric Railway was busy picking up as many retired cars from across the USA as they could. Realising that the same was happening overseas a number of trams were rescued from Europe and Australasia. Track was laid so that visitors could experience travelling by streetcar as well as admiring the huge collection that the museum had amassed. The Seashore Trolley Museum is now the largest Electric Railway Museum in the world with a collection of more than 250 vehicles that has broadened to include rapid transit cars and buses. Streetcars remain the central theme with a 2.4 km (1.5 mile) track along which restored antique streetcars operate daily. Click Tab 2 to see a exhibit that brought back memories, the upstairs of Route 8 Glasgow Corporation Tram No. 1274.
Village Baptist Church & Nott House
This Greek Revival home was built next door to the Baptist Church in 1853 by Eliphalet Perkins. His eldest son Charles married the eldest daughter of the minister of the church, Celia Nott. and Charles purchased the house from his father as a present for his bride. The house remained in the family until the 1980s when it was given to the Kennebunkport Historical Society. Since then the Historical Society have opened the house to the public as a house museum. More recently they added a First Families Kennebunkport Museum in the house which covers two centuries of Kennebunkport history, from sea captains to Presidents. The Historical Society have changed the name of the house to ‘The White Columns’ but most information still refers to it as the Nott House. It is open Monday to Saturday between Memorial Day and Columbus Day. Unfortunately we could not tour it as we arrived too late on a Saturday and it is closed on Sundays. The Village Baptist Church, to the left of the Nott House, was built in 1838. In recent years its steeple had to be removed because it had become too weak to support the weight of the bell, but by the time we visited it was sporting a smart new steeple.
South Congregational Church
Construction of a church in Kennebunkport began in 1729. That church still stands, now known as the First Congregational Church but it is located nearer to the centre of Arundel than the centre of Kennebunkport. In 1838 seventy members of the church sought to be dismissed from the church along with the pastor the Rev. Levi Smith. This was not a sudden outbreak of atheism, growth of the shipbuilding industry moved the centre of Kennebunkport southwards nearer to the mouth of the river they wanted to move to a church built in 1824 in the new centre of the town. They were dismissed in good standing and founded the South Congregational Church in the 1824 church building. At that time the church did not have the portico which was added in 1912, but otherwise it looked much as it does today. The clock with its wooden face was built in 1824 by Aaron Willard and it still keeps accurate time and rings on the hour.
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The Wedding Cake House, 104 Summer Street
This house in Kennebunk is officially called the George W. Bourne House but because of its elaborate gothic design it is better known as the Wedding Cake House. It is claimed to be the most photographed house in Maine. Bourne was a shipbuilder, a skill that he put to great use when building this house in 1825. The house originally lacked the gothic features for which it is famous. Bourne later added carriage house and barn connected to the house, but the barn caught fire in 1852 and the carriage house was demolished to stop the fire from spreading to the house. Bourne was in Europe at the time and had become smitten by the gothic architecture of Milan Cathedral. On his return he set about rebuilding the carriage house and barn in the gothic style. He then decided to harmonise the house with his gothic creations by adding buttresses with pinnacles on top connected together with complex woodwork. He did all the work himself with the help of a single apprentice. The house was owned by Bourne’s descendants until 1983 when it was bought by Mary Burnett and her daughter who restored the house. It remains a private residence but it is from time to time open for public tours.
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Kennebunk River & Clam Shack
This is a view of the Kennebunk River from the bridge at Dock Square, Kennebunkport. The shipbuilding industry may have gone but downstream of the bridge the river remains very busy with plenty of fishing boats and tourist boats. On the right of the picture is the Clam Shack where you can buy freshly cooked local seafood dishes to take away. Only small boats can pass under the bridge so the view from the other side of the bridge is very different. The former grist mill pond is devoid of boats apart from three dories moored close together. A dory is a traditional shallow draft fishing boat made from wide planks which was widely used from Long Island to Nova Scotia. They were rowing boats designed to carry huge loads of fish even in rough seas. Click Tab 2 for a closer view of the Clam Shack or Tab 3 for a tranquil view up river featuring three dories .
St Anthony's Franciscan Monastery
This building near Kennebunk does not look like a monastery and there is a reason for that. Industrialist William A. Rogers purchased the estate on which it now stands in 1900 and he commissioned architects Green and Wicks to design and build a Tudor-style mansion on the estate. Rogers sold the estate to William N. Campbell in 1937. The estate and property were purchased by Lithuanian Franciscans in 1947, and they adapted the mansion and grounds to create St Anthony’s Franciscan Monastery. In 1953 a shrine was built in the grounds, the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. Another shrine was added in 1959, the Chapel of the Stations of the Cross. A new St. Anthony's Chapel was constructed between 1965 and 1966. The grounds include English gardens, statues, and a walking trail with views of the river. The grounds are open to the public and the public can attend mass in the chapel. Click Tab 2 to see the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes.