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The Marvelous Captain Lord Mansion in Kennebunkport: Part One

The Captain Lord MansionMy recent trip to a beautiful bed & breakfast inn located in Kennebunkport, Maine was really supposed to have happened almost nine years ago but a trip that was planned for October of 2002 unfortunately never happened.  At that time, I was head-over-heels back in love with the guy who'd had my heart tied in knots for years and it seemed that after 17 long years, we were finally going to be together as we made plans for his very first trip to New England.

One of John's priorities during his visit was to be a trip to Maine for a chance to see a coastline as different from that of California as possible so I spent a lot of time searching for what I wanted to be the perfect place to stay and that's when I came across the Captain Lord Mansion.  Just looking at their website, I knew I had found the ideal spot and made reservations only to have to cancel them a few months later when life threw yet another curve ball and things got complicated once again.  As my heart broke for the third and final time, I vowed that someday I would still go stay at the Captain Lord Mansion even if I had to go by myself.  Not quite nine years later I finally got that chance.

As I made the 175-mile drive from Norwich to Kennebunkport I couldn't help but think that this wasn't the way that it was supposed to be but over the past 8+ years I'd had plenty of time to accept that it was a trip that I'd never make with John and I'd had lots of time to fall back, regroup, and repair my heart. Even though there was going to be a small "ghost" going along with me on this trip, I thoroughly planned on enjoying my time away at one of the "most romantic Bed & Breakfasts in Maine" even though I was going there alone. Better alone than not at all, right?

Kennebunkport Town Sign

As you might expect, though, the story of the Captain Lord Mansion starts a lot more than nine years ago.

Our story begins almost 235 years ago with Nathaniel Lord, the second son of Lieutenant Tobias Lord and Mehitable (Scammon) Lord, who was born June 1st, 1776, at Moulton's Mills in Sanford, Maine. On July 2nd, 1797, 21-year old Nathaniel married 16-year old Phoebe Walker, the daughter of Captain Daniel Walker and Lois (Stone) Walker of Arundel. The young couple settled in Kennebunkport where Nathaniel was a shipbuilder and they then proceeded to have eight children from 1798 to 1814: Mehitable Scammon Lord, 1798; Daniel Walker Lord, 1800; Lois Walker Lord, 1802; Phoebe Lord, 1804; Charles Austin Lord, 1806; Nathaniel Lord, 1808; Betsey Watts Lord, 1810; Susan Lord, 1812; and Lucy Jane Lord, 1814. In addition to his children with Phoebe, Nathaniel also had an illegitimate son with his housekeeper Sarah Estes Day when William Lord, Jr. was born on September 3rd, 1803. Needless to say, with all of those children, the family was in need of a big house!

Nathaniel Lord Family Tree

In doing some research on Nathaniel Lord, I was able to find the following biographical sketch in a privately printed manuscript entitled: "The Ancestors and Descendants of Lieutenant Tobias Lord" written by Charles Edward Lord in 1913. According to that manuscript, Nathaniel Lord:
"... was a business man of excellent standing, and was noted for his remarkable memory. It is said that he kept no account books, but carried the details of his large shipping business in his head, meeting all obligations promptly.

Records in the old Custom House at Kennebunkport, dating from 1800, make mention of Mr. Lord's name as consignee of various cargoes received from many different ports in the West Indies, and also some from Liverpool, with additional information as to duties imposed, tonnage of vessels, and other interesting statistics regarding the shipping of those early days.

His ships, the largest being about 250 tons, brought iron, coal, salt, etc., safely to port when the enemy's ships-of-war were already on the seas in search of American commerce. Mr. Lord built a large mansion house at Kennebunkport during the War of 1812-14, chiefly, it was said, to furnish work to otherwise unemployed ship carpenters."
With his shipwrights sitting idle due to the imposed British blockade, Nathaniel decided to put them to work building him the most impressive home in the area.  In order to achieve that goal, Nathaniel chose the famous housewright/architect Thomas Eaton to design his mansion. Eaton had previously designed another home in the area for William Taylor, a successful Kennebunk merchant.  The Taylor-Barry House, designed in 1803, is a great example of the Federal Style architecture that was prevalent during the heyday of Kennebunk's shipping industry and I'm sure it's design was what prompted Nathaniel to engage Eaton as architect and dream of an even more impressive home.

Julia Fuller - Age 8Unfortunately, Nathaniel didn't get to enjoy his grand house for very long as he died on February 24th, 1815 (most likely from influenza) at the young age of 39.  His wife Phoebe - who had popped out a baby just about every two years - lived on for another 49 years and the house stayed in the family for another four generations until great-great granddaughter Julia Buckland Fuller sold the house to a gentleman who would eventually sell the house to Rick Litchfield and his wife Bev Davis, current owners and innkeepers of the Captain Lord Mansion.

Refugees from the corporate world of advertising, Bev and Rick found themselves in Kennebunkport on Saint Patrick's Day in 1978 staring at the 3-story Federal Style former home of Captain Nathaniel Lord and his family knowing that they just had to own it.  At that time the mansion was being used as a home for elderly ladies though it was properly licensed for the rental of 16 rooms as well as serving meals to guests which seemed to fit the bill perfectly for their goal of owning an antique-filled, intimate bed and breakfast inn.

On June 15th, 1978 the couple closed the purchase on the 20,000-square foot mansion and began the sizable task of renovating the building into a first-class country inn with five of the seven senior ladies staying on as residents during the process.  Neither Bev nor Rick had any experience in running an inn but I'm pretty sure they could have fooled anyone as they completely renovated the mansion and made it into one of the finest destinations in all of New England.  The couple is going on close to 35 years as innkeepers while the mansion nears it's 200th anniversary in 2012 when an entire year of special events and activities is planned.

Side View of the Mansion

Now, of course, I didn't know any of this back in 2002 when I was first planning on staying at the mansion.  I just knew that it looked absolutely gorgeous and plush and luxurious and like the perfect place to spend time with the person you love.  Having now spent a night there I can tell you that I was right on all counts as even though I have no one who loves me in a romantic-bed-&-breakfast kind of way, I met a lot of guests who did and they couldn't have looked happier or more in love if they'd tried.  While I'm sure they can attest to the "perfect place to spend time with the person you love" aspect, I can most definitely attest to the "gorgeous and plush and luxurious" aspects!  And you can bet that if I ever do meet someone who loves me in a romantic-bed-&-breakfast kind of way that I'll be hauling him directly up to Kennebunkport!

The Captain Lord Mansion

Now that I've given you the history of the Lord family of Kennebunkport and told you why and when the Captain Lord Mansion was built, I guess it's time for me to quit teasing you and show you inside the house, isn't it?

Personally speaking, just looking at the outside of the house would more than inspire me to want to stay there as the classic design of the mansion really appeals to me being that I'm rather partial to the Federal style of architecture but there's also just something inherently romantic in old sea captain's houses, don't you think?  I can't pass by one without thinking of the wives who used to wait for their husbands' ships to return home from their sea journeys, pacing anxiously while waiting for that first glimpse of sail on the horizon.  Honestly, I think I was born a century or so too late.  Ah well, be that as it may, come on ... let's go inside the mansion!

Captain Lord Mansion Sign
Reception Signage
Main Entrance to Captain Lord Mansion

From the parking area behind the mansion, one enters the mansion through this entryway on the side of the house.  I'm guessing that perhaps the covering over the steps is a temporary "winter entrance" but I totally forgot to ask. 

National Register of Historic Places Plaque

Just to the left of the entrance the above plaque can be found designating the property as being on the National Register of Historic Places - a sure sign that I am totally going to love the place no matter what I might find inside! 

Guest List at Front Entrance

Immediately upon walking through the door I spotted the frame above that welcomed guests to the Captain Lord Mansion and listed everyone who was staying that day and where we were from.  All 16 rooms at the mansion were filled with guests from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York, Florida, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.  In addition to the guests staying in the mansion, there were also three couples staying at The Captain's Garden House which is a property directly behind the mansion that is also owned by Rick and Bev. The Garden House is an 1807 Federal style home that has four guestrooms, a personal cook, and looks like another beautiful place to stay!  

Front Entrance and Entryway

If you turn around after entering the mansion, this is the view you get of the entryway with the family tree of the Lord family on the wall to your right along with the picture of Captain Lord's great-great-granddaughter Julia Fuller at age 8 that I posted above. 

First Floor HallwayAs I stood just inside the entryway taking it all in and appreciating all of the obvious attention to detail that had gone into the surroundings, I was greeted by Donna,  Office Manager at the mansion for the past 12 years.  After Donna welcomed me and asked if she could assist me I said something horribly profound to the affect of "I think I'm checking in."  Duh?

Donna laughed and led me down the hallway to the reception area where she asked my first name as I signed the guestbook.  As I gave her my name her smile got even brighter as she said "Oh, you're our travel writer!" I have to say that was just one of the coolest things ever as I believe that's the first time I've ever been called that - though it definitely wasn't the last time I heard it during my time there! Talk about feeling special ...

Innkeeper Rick LitchfieldDonna, who preferred not to have her picture taken (something I totally understand!), was training a new employee who, if I remember correctly, was named Patty and in addition to them I got to meet Rick Litchfield, Innkeeper Extraordinaire! Rick welcomed me to the mansion and said that if I wished to speak to him at all during my stay to just let him know and he'd be happy to answer any questions that I might have. I told him that I would most definitely be asking about the history of the house and other things that came to mind while I was there - which I did and he was most gracious and informative in answering any and all questions.

Before escorting me up to my room, I was given a tour of the "common areas" of the mansion but as it would make for an exceedingly longer post than this one already is, I'm going to show those to you in the next installment and concentrate on the room I stayed in for the remainder of this writing as it warrants almost the entire post to itself!  I'm pretty sure you're going to agree once you see it.

Second Floor Hallway

My room was located on the second floor of the mansion and as I was led upstairs I noted that the walls looked more like an art gallery with all of the beautiful paintings that adorned it.  The paintings are almost all for sale, too, if you happen to see one that you particularly like and want to take home with you.  I saw several that I really liked but alas my finances don't exactly inspire art-collecting so I had to leave them there for someone else.  Rats.

Second Floor of the Mansion

Bev Davis, Rick's wife and partner, has added lots of detailed touches to the mansion and they are easy to spot on every floor of the mansion.  This antique baby carriage and mirror are located on the second floor just before the stairs leading up to the third floor. There are beautiful plush Oriental carpets cushioning your feet everywhere in the mansion over the gleaming wood floors so it's really easy to feel pampered even before you're shown into your room. My room was behind the door below which was directly across from the carriage and mirror above.

Doorway to the Callender Room

I should mention here that all of the rooms at the Captain Lord Mansion are named for ships that were owned or built by Captain Lord or one of his sons. As he was only 39 when he died he didn't have 16 ships of his own but several of his sons carried on the tradition and it was from them that Rick and Bev were able to have enough names for all of the rooms.  Each room has an explanation on the door of the ship that it was named for. 

Description on the Room Door

My room for the night was to be the Callender Room which is named for the Ship Callender that was owned by William Lord, Jr. - Captain Lord's illegitimate son who went to sea when he was about twelve years old and became a master of a vessel before he was twenty-one. At age thirty-one, he retired from sailing the seas as master of his own ship and was then engaged with G. & I. Lord, George Callender & Co., George C. Lord & Co., and others in building vessels at Kennebunkport*.  The Callender, hailing from Boston, was launched on August 26th, 1846 with Daniel Nason, Jr. as her master.

As Donna unlocked the door to my room and opened it for me to step through it was kind of hard not to gasp out loud at how beautiful it was but I think I settled for a big smile instead as I was greeted with my favorite colors of purple and green in a room that can only be described as WOW!  One picture alone is just not going to do it so I've provided some from several different angles so you can see exactly how gorgeous of a room it is.

The Callender Room
Sitting Area in the Callender Room
The Callender Room
The Callender Room
Bed Stepstool

Obviously the central part of the room is the king-size four-poster bed that's so high one has to use a stepstool to climb up into it but if I thought the bedroom itself was grand, I was in for even more of a treat as Donna showed me all of the features of the large bathroom that was located behind wooden double doors.

As she told me about the heated marble floors, the four-head hydro-massage shower, the comfy robes, the European-style lighted make-up mirror, the various soaps and lotions, and the sinfully plush towels that were simply waiting for me to make use of them I kept thinking that things just kept getting better and better!

Bathroom in the Callender Room
Towel Rack in the Bathroom of the Callender Room
Bathroom of the Callender Room
Bathroom Sink
Hydro-Massage Shower

Donna took the time to point out all of the room's other amenities before she wished me a wonderful stay and said that if there was anything at all that I needed, I merely needed to ask one of the staff and they'd see to it that my every need was met. Honestly, a girl could really get used to this! After Donna and Patty left me to enjoy and explore some more of the Callender Room.

The Callender Room

Each room at the mansion has its own gas-burning fireplace and sitting area. 

Flat-Screen TV Monitor

Rooms also have a small flat-screen TV with cable and complimentary wireless internet - which works great by the way!

Live Plant in the Room

There are special little touches like live plants and assorted games - cribbage and cards were in the boxes on my table.

Complimentary Juice, Soda, & Water

A mini-refrigerator stocked with complimentary juice, soda, and water is there for your convenience.

Artwork in Room
Room Amenities

Amenities like chocolates, wine glasses, a corkscrew, a CD player with romantic music should you desire it, and an extensive wine selection are all at your fingertips. 

Frog Figurine on the Fireplace Mantel

On my fireplace mantel was the whimsical frog figurine above and a beautiful postcard of the room itself below as well as several books with information on the general area and places of interest that I might want to see during my stay. 

Postcard of the Callender Room in the Callender Room!
Fireplace in the Callender Room

Of course I had to try out my fireplace which put off a nice bit of heat while definitely adding to the ambiance of the room and made me wish even more that I had someone special to share all of this with. Ah well, I wasn't going to dwell on that, I was simply going to enjoy my stay to its fullest!

Bed & Painting in the Callender Room

Even though I was sorely tempted, I managed to restrain myself from jumping up on the bed no matter how inviting it looked as I was pretty sure that if I did and found out that it was as comfortable as it looked that I'd never get around to checking out the rest of the mansion and I knew that there was a lot more to see outside of my room. 

Ship Painting Hanging in the Callender Room

In all honesty, though, I could have simply stayed in my room and looked at this painting for hours on end as I really liked it.  I don't know why but I have an affinity for the sea and for sailing ships and this painting just pulled me in. It would look perfect hanging over the mantel of my fireplace at home but I guess I'm just going to have to settle for looking at the picture of it instead as I sure the heck wasn't going to try to take it home with me!

Now that you've learned the history of the mansion and seen a small bit of it along with my gorgeous room for the night, next post I'll show you more of the former home of Captain Nathaniel Lord and his family both inside and out as I did eventually manage to leave my room though it was tough - very tough - but well worth it!

Comments

  1. Well that was a lovely mini vacation. Now I have to check the genealogy since I know there are several Fullers on the tree.

    ReplyDelete

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